To measure the association between the disinfection of municipal drinking water with monochloramine and the occurrence of hospital-acquired legionnaires' disease (LD).
One hundred sixty-six U.S. hospitals.
Survey of 459 members of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) for hospital features; endemic- and outbreak-related, hospital-acquired LD; the source of the hospital water supply; and the methods of disinfection used by the hospitals and municipal water treatment plants.
SHEA members representing 166 (36%) of 459 hospitals responded; 33 (20%) reported one or more episodes of hospital-acquired LD during the period from 1994 to 1998 and 23 (14%) reported an outbreak of hospital-acquired LD during the period from 1989 to 1998. Hospitals with an occurrence of hospital-acquired LD had a higher census (median, 319 vs 221; P = .03), more acute care beds (median, 500 vs 376; P = .04), and more intensive care unit beds (median, 42 vs 24; P = .009) than did other hospitals. They were also more likely to have a transplant service (74% vs 42%; P = .001) and to perform surveillance for hospital-acquired disease (92% vs 61%; P = .001). After adjustment for the presence of a transplant program and surveillance for legionnaires' disease, hospitals supplied with drinking water disinfected with monochloramine by municipal plants were less likely to have sporadic cases or outbreaks of hospital-acquired LD (odds ratio, 0.20; 95% confidence interval, 0.07 to 0.56) than were other hospitals.
Water disinfection with monochloramine by municipal water treatment plants significantly reduces the risk of hospital-acquired LD.
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