Contact precautions, and why I hate them, holiday edition

Investigators at the University of Maryland (and one or two who used to be there) are among few who are carefully examining the unintentional adverse consequences of contact precautions. Their latest publication comes out in January’s ICHE. In this paper, they report an association between starting contact precautions during hospitalization and delirium.

After adjusting for comorbid conditions, age, sex, ICU status, and length of stay, Day and colleagues found that patients newly placed under contact precautions during hospitalization were more likely to experience delirium (odds ratio 1.75, 95% CI 1.6-1.9). Delirium was defined by ICD-9 code, supplemented by use of restraints and anti-psychotic meds (this measure was validated by randomly-selected chart review). Curiously, this association did not hold for patients admitted to the hospital under contact precautions. As the authors point out, those admitted under contact precautions weren’t nearly as sick as those newly placed under precautions during hospitalization, which may account for this difference.

I’ll be the first to point out that this study doesn’t prove causation—however, the study does support our previous recommendations that patients placed under contact precautions should be carefully monitored for adverse psychiatric consequences.


Most Read Posts (Last 30 Days)