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Adverse Outcomes Can Result From Less Patient Contact

Multi-drug resistant organisms are invading our hospitals. To counter this threat medical in-patient medical facilities use contact precautions such as isolation of the patient, gowning, gloving and masking are used to prevent patient-to-patient spread of drug resistant infections such as MRSA, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. However such precautions have their own adverse consequences. The New York Times reported that the effect is “more noninfectious complications like falls and pressure ulcers and an increase of as much at 100 percent in the overall incidence of adverse events.”

Dr. Daniel J. Morgan and others reported their findings in the American Journal of Infection Control that contact precautions can lead to adverse outcomes that are potentially harmful to patients including “less patient-health care worker contact, changes in systems of care that produce delays and more noninfectious adverse events, increased symptoms of depression and anxiety, and decreased patient satisfaction with care.” Dr. Morgan concluded that in focusing on infection prevent physicians and other health care providers lose focus of the overall picture of the patient. He and his colleagues urged that measures to eliminate or lessen the deleterious consequences from contact prevention are urgently needed.

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