Recognition and prevention of hospital-associated enteric infections in the intensive care unit

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The objectives of this article were to review the causes and extent of hospital-associated infectious diarrhea and associated risks in the general hospital ward and intensive care unit (ICU), to compare microorganisms with similar symptoms to aid in recognition that will lead to timely and appropriate treatment and control measures, and to propose infection prevention protocols that could decrease human process errors in the ICU. This literature review describes epidemiology, comparison of microbial characteristics for potential hospital-associated enteric pathogens, diagnosis, and prevention, especially if important in the ICU, and particularly in regard to Clostridium difficile. Enteric organisms that most commonly cause hospital-associated infectious diarrhea in acute care settings and the ICU are C. difficile, rotavirus, and norovirus, although others may also be important, particularly in developing countries. To recognize and control infectious diarrhea successfully in the ICU, intensivists should be aware that epidemiology, risks, and prevention measures may differ between these microorganisms. In addition, intensivists should be ready to implement systems changes related to notification, isolation precautions and prevention, and environmental cleaning in the ICU.

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