C. diff infection source identified via EHR-data!

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Electronic health data used in a different way!

What a great idea of some researchers of the UCSF (Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco) to track routes of infections (see recently published study) with material that at first glance has nothing to do with infection detection. They examined the electronic health record (EHR)-data of their hospital to track down the source of clostridium difficile infections by tracing the movements of more than 85.000 patients over a three-year period (2013-16). Sara Murray, M.D., M.A.S., assistant professor of medicine at UCSF and her team constructed a map on the basis of the EHR-data. And so, they could see the movements of all patients with C. diff infections over the course of the three-year study period.The analysis showed that one location, a particular CT scanner in the Emergency Department, was a significant source of exposure-related infections. Patients who entered that scanner within 24 hours after C. diff-positive patients were more than twice as likely to become infected with the bacterium.

Reading this study, I remembered the long-lasting discussions about our HER-data-system in Austria (ELGA). As in many other countries there was a lot of resistance against this system (privacy, costs, interferes with the doctor-patient relationship etc.). Fine, that this often criticised system obviously not only helps to provide important information for diagnosis but maybe can be used in the future for the detection of multiresistant germs.

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Carola Timmel is journalist for print and radio and professional speaker. Her focus lies on the topic Medicine & Health.

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