J Patient Saf. 2021 May 6. doi: 10.1097/PTS.0000000000000858. Online ahead of print.
OBJECTIVE: Clostridioides difficile is the most common hospital-acquired pathogen and persists in the environment for extended periods. As a common entry point for patients with diarrhea, and a setting providing fast-paced, high-volume care, emergency departments (EDs) are often sites of C. difficile contamination. This study examined the relationship between average patient wait times in the ED before admission and overall hospital-acquired C. difficile infection (HA-CDI) rates in New York State acute care hospitals.
METHODS: A random-effects regression analysis compared each facility's annual average ED wait time for admitted patients with that facility's average (HA-CDI) rates for patients entering through the ED. This model controlled for known clinical and nonclinical predictors of HA-CDI: average length of stay; case mix index; total discharges, a measure of hospital size; and percent Medicare discharges, a proxy for advanced age.
RESULTS: Emergency department wait times had a significant and positive relationship with HA-CDI rates. Facilities experience an additional 0.002 cases of HA-CDI per 1000 patient discharges with every additional minute patients spend in the ED (P = 0.003), on average. Emergency department wait times also had the largest effect size (0.210), indicating that they explain more of the variance in HA-CDI rates for patients entering through the ED than some of the best-known predictors of HA-CDI.
CONCLUSIONS: The relationship between ED wait times and eventual HA-CDI warrants further exploration. These findings suggest efforts to reduce ED wait times for admitted patients or more rigorous environmental cleanliness strategies in the ED, as possible avenues for HA-CDI prevention.