To assess consumption of resources in the infection control management of healthcare workers (HCWs) exposed to pertussis and to assess avoidability of exposure.
Tertiary care children's medical center.
Analysis of the extent of and reasons for HCW exposure to pertussis during contact with children with the disease, whether exposures were avoidable (because of the failure to recognize a case or to order or adhere to isolation precautions) or unavoidable (because the case was not recognizable or because another diagnosis was confirmed), and the cost of implementing exposure management.
Interventions consisted of an investigation of every HCW encounter with any patient who was confirmed later to have pertussis from the time of hospital admission of the patient, use of azithromycin as postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) for exposed HCWs, performance of 21-day surveillance for cough illness, testing of symptomatic exposed HCWs for Bordetella pertussis, and enhanced preexposure education of HCWs.
From September 2003 through April 2005, pertussis was confirmed in 28 patients (median age, 62 days); 24 patients were admitted. For 11 patients, pertussis was suspected, appropriate precautions were taken, and no HCW was exposed. Inadequate precautions for 17 patients led to 355 HCW exposures. The median number of HCWs exposed per exposing patient was 9 (range, 1-86 HCWs; first quartile mean, 2; fourth quartile mean, 61). Exposure was definitely avoidable for only 61 (17%) of 355 HCWs and was probably unavoidable for 294 HCWs (83%). The cost of 20-month infection control management of HCWs exposed to pertussis was $69,770. The entire cohort of HCWs involved in direct patient care at the facility could be immunized for approximately $60,000.
Exposure of HCWs to pertussis during contact with children who have the disease is largely unavoidable, and management of this exposure is resource intensive. Universal preexposure vaccination of HCWs is a better utilization of resources than is case-based postexposure management.
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