Observational study of the use of infection control interventions for Mycobacterium tuberculosis in pediatric facilities

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Introduction.Hospital transmission of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB) is a problem in US facilities where adults are treated. However, specific guidelines for facilities in which pediatric patients are cared for have never been defined, nor has any study attempted to assess pediatric health care worker (HCW) compliance with TB infection control (IC) guidelines.Methods.An observational study was performed in two pediatric inpatient hospitals from May, 1996, to December, 1997. A trained observer tallied persons (i.e. professional HCWs, ancillary HCWs and non-HCWs) entering and leaving occupied TB isolation rooms and recorded adherence with IC practices (e.g. proper use of respirators, prompt door closures, door signage).Results.Thirty children with confirmed or suspected TB were admitted during the study period and observed for a total of 242 h during which 656 visits by professional (n = 391) and ancillary (n = 131) HCWs and by family members (n = 134) were recorded. During 30% of visits doors remained open an average of 10 min, and during 20% of visits no respiratory protection was worn. In all, visitors wore the correct respiratory protection appropriately only 55% of the time. HCWs were more likely to wear respiratory protection when caring for children with a positive acid-fast bacillus smear than family members, but professional staff were no more likely than ancillary staff to do so.Conclusions.This is the first study to quantify compliance with IC practices for TB in pediatric hospitals. The majority of visitors entering TB isolation rooms occupied by children with confirmed or suspected TB complied with IC guidelines, but discrepancies were seen. Rather than relying on TB IC guidelines designed for adult facilities, guidelines specific for pediatric facilities that consider the local epidemiology of TB should be developed.

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