Temporary suspension of visiting during norovirus outbreaks in NHS Boards and the independent care home sector in Scotland: a cross-sectional survey of practice

Kay Currie, E. Curran, Evelyn Strachan, Donald Bunyan, Lesley Price

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Abstract

Background: Norovirus outbreaks cause significant patient distress and adversely affect healthcare service delivery. Measures to manage outbreaks include controlling patient/staff movement and advising visitors of the risks of infection; temporary suspension of visiting (TSV) is advocated by some. Factors influencing the use of TSV have not previously been reported. Aim: To describe current practice in Scotland regarding TSV during norovirus outbreaks. Methods: Cross-sectional survey of Scottish Health Boards [National Health Service (NHS)] Infection Prevention Leads (N = 22) and independent care home (ICH) managers (N = 107). Findings: TSV practice is inconsistent across care settings. NHS findings: although 86.4% reported a recent norovirus outbreak, only 36.4% reported having criteria in place to guide TSV decisions and only 57.9% of those who had an outbreak implemented TSV. Conversely, 77.6% ICH respondents do have TSV criteria in place; 70.1% who had previously experienced an outbreak all reported that they would normally close to visitors. The majority of both NHS (81.8%) and ICH (84.2%) respondents reported making exceptions to TSV for individual cases. Despite variation in practice, 75% NHS and 81.8% ICH respondents agreed that TSV was helpful in controlling outbreaks. Factors influencing TSV implementation decisions included use of judgement in individual cases, perceived lack of evidence for the role of visitors in transmission, and belief in patients' rights to have visitors. Conclusion: Implementation of TSV in Scotland is inconsistent, with variation in the use of criteria, personal beliefs, and professional judgements. Further research on the role of visitors in transmission and service-user acceptability of TSV is required for policy development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-258
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Hospital Infection
Volume92
Issue number3
Early online date6 Nov 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016

Keywords

  • Norovirus outbreaks
  • suspended visiting
  • outbreak management

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