A Universal Screening Strategy for SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Intensive Care Units: Korean Experience in a Single Hospital

Infect Chemother. 2020 Sep;52(3):352-359. doi: 10.3947/ic.2020.52.3.352. Epub 2020 Aug 19.


Background: Severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection is not differentiated clinically from other respiratory infections, and intensive care units (ICUs) are vulnerable to in-hospital transmission due to interventions inducing respiratory aerosols. This study evaluated the effectiveness of universal SARS-CoV-2 screening in ICUs in terms of screened-out cases and reduction in anxiety of healthcare personnel (HCP).

Materials and methods: This prospective single-armed observational study was conducted in 2 ICUs of a single hospital. The number of patients diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 infection by the screening program and healthcare workers in ICUs that visited the SARS-CoV-2 screening clinic or infection clinic were investigated.

Results: During the 7-week study period, no positive screening case was reported among a total of 142 patients. Among 86 HCP in the ICUs, only 2 HCP sought medical consultation for SARS-CoV-2 infection during the initial 2 weeks.

Conclusion: A universal screening program for SARS-CoV-2 infection in ICUs with the coordination of other countermeasures in the hospital was reasonably effective in preventing in-hospital transmission in a pandemic situation and making clinical practices and HCP stable.

Keywords: COVID; Intensive care unit; Nosocomial infection; SARS-CoV-2; Screening.