The profound changes wrought by COVID-19 on routine hospital operations may have influenced performance on hospital measures, including healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). We aimed to evaluate the association between COVID-19 surges and HAI and cluster rates.
In 148 HCA Healthcare-affiliated hospitals, 3/1/2020-9/30/2020, and a subset of hospitals with microbiology and cluster data through 12/31/2020, we evaluated the association between COVID-19 surges and HAIs, hospital-onset pathogens, and cluster rates using negative binomial mixed models. To account for local variation in COVID-19 pandemic surge timing, we included the number of discharges with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis per staffed bed per month.
Central line-associated blood stream infections (CLABSI), catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI), and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteremia increased as COVID-19 burden increased. There were 60% (95% CI, 23-108%) more CLABSI, 43% (95% CI, 8-90%) more CAUTI, and 44% (95% CI, 10-88%) more cases of MRSA bacteremia than expected over 7 months based on predicted HAIs had there not been COVID-19 cases. Clostridioides difficile infection was not significantly associated with COVID-19 burden. Microbiology data from 81 of the hospitals corroborated the findings. Notably, rates of hospital-onset bloodstream infections and multidrug resistant organisms, including MRSA, vancomycin-resistant enterococcus and Gram-negative organisms were each significantly associated with COVID-19 surges. Finally, clusters of hospital-onset pathogens increased as the COVID-19 burden increased.
COVID-19 surges adversely impact HAI rates and clusters of infections within hospitals, emphasizing the need for balancing COVID-related demands with routine hospital infection prevention.