Detection of nosocomial methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections in horses in Sweden has increased attention on infection control (IC) in equine hospitals. This study established baseline data on IC programmes within such settings, evaluated compliance with some IC procedures before and after an education intervention, and examined barriers to compliance.
The study was carried out between 2008 and 2011 in four Swedish equine hospitals. Data on current IC of each hospital, purchase data on hand sanitisers and disposable gloves per patient, and direct observations of compliance with procedures were monitored pre- and post-intervention. The intervention comprised a lecture on common IC and a review of each hospital’s current procedures. For comparison, retrospective purchase data were reviewed. A questionnaire on individual compliance, experiences and opinions of IC was issued to employees.
Three hospitals completed the study, while the fourth reported its IC procedures and completed the questionnaire. Actual numbers of procedures, content and level of documentation differed among the hospitals. Similarities were poor or absent IC implementation strategy, lack of active surveillance of compliance with procedures and no monitoring of such as nosocomial infections. Among the hospitals which completed the study, two reported pre-intervention observation of compliance, while all three reported post-intervention observations. The purchase data showed trends for changes over time, although not uniformly related to the intervention. One hospital demonstrated a significant post-intervention increase in compliance with glove procedures, accompanied by a non-significant post-intervention increase in purchases figures. Compliance with dress code and personal appearance was high in all three hospitals (92-100%), while compliance with hand hygiene procedures was generally poorer. Barriers to compliance cited in the questionnaire (data from four hospitals) included insufficient supplies of hygiene products, lack of readily accessible places for cleaning, insufficient knowledge and high workload.
Potential for easily attainable improvements in IC, such as traceability of documents, implementation strategies and surveillance of efficacy, was revealed. Attention to hand hygiene implementation and improvement of logistics appeared important. Data on purchases per patient were readily available and therefore applicable for intra-hospital surveillance of IC trends over time.