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The Effect of Contact Precautions on Frequency of Hospital Adverse Events

  • Lindsay D. Croft (a1), Michael Liquori (a2) (a3), James Ladd (a1), Hannah Day (a1), Lisa Pineles (a1), Elizabeth Lamos (a2), Ryan Arnold (a2), Preeti Mehrotra (a4), Jeffrey C. Fink (a1) (a5) (a3), Patricia Langenberg (a1), Linda Simoni-Wastila (a6), Eli Perencevich (a7) (a8), Anthony D. Harris (a1) (a3) and Daniel J. Morgan (a1) (a3)...

To determine whether use of contact precautions on hospital ward patients is associated with patient adverse events


Individually matched prospective cohort study


The University of Maryland Medical Center, a tertiary care hospital in Baltimore, Maryland


A total of 296 medical or surgical inpatients admitted to non–intensive care unit hospital wards were enrolled at admission from January to November 2010. Patients on contact precautions were individually matched by hospital unit after an initial 3-day length of stay to patients not on contact precautions. Adverse events were detected by physician chart review and categorized as noninfectious, preventable and severe noninfectious, and infectious adverse events during the patient’s stay using the standardized Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Global Trigger Tool.


The cohort of 148 patients on contact precautions at admission was matched with a cohort of 148 patients not on contact precautions. Of the total 296 subjects, 104 (35.1%) experienced at least 1 adverse event during their hospital stay. Contact precautions were associated with fewer noninfectious adverse events (rate ratio [RtR], 0.70; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.51–0.95; P=.02) and although not statistically significant, with fewer severe adverse events (RtR, 0.69; 95% CI, 0.46–1.03; P=.07). Preventable adverse events did not significantly differ between patients on contact precautions and patients not on contact precautions (RtR, 0.85; 95% CI, 0.59–1.24; P=.41).


Hospital ward patients on contact precautions were less likely to experience noninfectious adverse events during their hospital stay than patients not on contact precautions.

Infect. Control Hosp. Epidemiol. 2015;36(11):1268–1274

Corresponding author
Address correspondence to Daniel J. Morgan, MD, MS, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Maryland School of Medicine, 685 W. Baltimore St. MSTF 334, Baltimore, Maryland 21201 (
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Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology
  • ISSN: 0899-823X
  • EISSN: 1559-6834
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