Contagion&reg to Report on 2017 SHEA Spring Conference

March 27, 2017
Kristi Rosa

Contagion® will be covering the conference, and so keep a look out for session coverage, as well as interviews with some of the key presenters.

Updated: 3/29/2017 at 1:45 PM EST.

Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) continue to plague hospitals and long-term care facilities across the country, although, a recent report from shows that strategies to prevent these infections have made progress in decreasing their incidence since 2010. Still, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that a least one healthcare-associated infection is reported in about one in 25 hospitals on any given day.

When it comes to keeping up on the latest news regarding these harmful infections, the newest strategies being used to prevent them, antimicrobial stewardship efforts, and treating infections caused by organisms that have managed to develop resistance to current antibiotics, the annual Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) Spring Conference is a gold mine packed full of information from key opinion leaders in the field, and Contagion® will be reporting on the conference for the second year in a row.

Since our inception in February 2016, Contagion® has kept readers current on new findings pertaining to healthcare-associated infections. Two of the big culprits that are most commonly behind these harmful and costly infections are Clostridium difficile and Staphylococcus aureus.

The CDC estimates that C. difficile accounted for about half a million infections in the United States in 2011, and the infection claim 29,000 lives within 30 days of initial diagnosis. Because of the seriousness of this infection, researchers around the world have dedicated their efforts to expanding screening, prevention, and treatment efforts in the hopes that the numbers can be reduced. At last year’s SHEA Conference, we interviewed Robin Jump, MD, PhD, about the burden of C. difficile in the hospital setting and up-and-coming prevention methods that healthcare providers can use to help manage these infections.

With a look to staph infections, we know that although about 30% of individuals carry Staphylococcus aureus in their noses and most the time, it does not cause any harm, in healthcare settings, particularly where patients can be immunocompromised, or have undergone surgeries and need intravenous catheters, these infections can be incredibly serious, and sometimes fatal. Even more troubling are methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) infections, as they are even harder to treat because the bacteria have managed to develop resistance to a number of available antibiotics, leaving researchers scrambling for alternative treatment options. Since our inception, we have paid attention to developments made in the fight against MRSA in hopes that our readers can use this information to improve patient outcomes. Whether reporting on research that found that salt can be used as a weapon in the battle against the infection, the antibiotic Baxdela developed by Melinta being submitted for FDA approval, or using gold nanoparticle-targeted laser therapy for enhancing the efficiency of antibiotics against MRSA biofilms, Contagion® continues to keep our readers informed on the latest MRSA discoveries.

One of the biggest actions that healthcare facilities have taken against these infections is implementing antimicrobial stewardship programs. The CDC reports that between 20% to 50% of the antibiotics that are prescribed in the United States “are either unnecessary or inappropriate,” and this contributes to the problem of antibiotic resistance. For this reason, antimicrobial stewardship programs focus on improving antibiotic prescribing and use within hospital settings. In the past, Contagion® has covered different programs, such as the “Handshake Stewardship” program, CDC guidance on these programs in hospitals, incorporating social media platforms into these programs, and more, which all resulted in positive patient outcomes. In the past, we’ve interviewed a number of key opinion leaders in infectious disease on how these programs should incorporate nurses, and how these programs can be used to tackle HAIs.

Some of the topics Contagion® is set to cover at the 2017 SHEA Conference include: engaging patients in activities to prevent HAIs, the role that visitors can play in HAI transmission, and the importance of including patients and families in prevention activities; different interventions that can be done to reduce HAI incidence, such as hand hygiene; and, challenging cases (pediatric, long-term care, adult hospital, international, community hospital) pertaining to infection prevention and stewardship.

Contagion® will also be covering the three plenaries sessions which will feature topics of particular importance in infectious disease prevention, such as the first plenary’s discussion of upcoming changes and requirements in antibiotic stewardship and the “benefits of integration across the field of infection prevention” as well as ways that those in the field can increase this integration. The second plenary is dedicated to improving “understanding of human motivation and maintenance of behavior change across multiple diseases and conditions,” and this understanding can be used to inform “more effective behavioral interventions to impact infection prevention and antimicrobial prescribing.” The closing plenary will feature insight on preparing for the future and cover the challenges faced when unexpected infectious disease situations spring up and strategies to “engage the next generation of infectious disease physicians to ensure sustainability and growth of infection prevention, hospital epidemiology, and antibiotic stewardship.”

Contagion® will also be sitting down with Snigdha Vallabhaneni, MD, MPH, from the CDC, to discuss detecting and responding to Candida auris, Lillian Abbo, MD, from the University of Miami Health System, who will take a closer look at rapid diagnostics tests and how they can be used in antibiotic stewardship programs to improve antibiotic use, and Nicola Thompson, PhD, MS, research epidemiologist, at the CDC Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, on her poster presentation on exploring different approaches to estimating the national burden of HAIs in nursing homes within the United States.

If there are any specific presentations from the “Agenda” that you would like us to cover, please share your thoughts on our Twitter or Facebook pages and we will do our best to accommodate your requests.

Editor's Note: A previous version of this article stated that, "Advancements are being made every day in the fight against the infection; in fact, recently, Duke Health researchers found that a UVC machine can work to can work to disinfect rooms from the pathogen." According to the study on the UVC machine, the researchers found that none of the disinfectant combinations resulted in a significant reduction of incidence of C. difficile. This sentence has since been omitted from the article.