Infection prevention and control measures in practices of the Swiss sentinel network during seasonal influenza epidemics

J Hosp Infect. 2020 Sep 3;S0195-6701(20)30414-X. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2020.08.026. Online ahead of print.


Background: There is limited data about healthcare influenza transmission in the context of primary care practices, despite the fact that a significant proportion of the population consults their primary care physician for an influenza-like illness every year.

Aim: We aimed to describe the use of influenza prevention and control methods in private practices of the Swiss sentinel network.

Methods: This online cross-sectional survey collected data about infection prevention and control measures in the 166 private practices of the Swiss sentinel surveillance network during the 2018-19 influenza season. Questions pertained to the practice setting, infection prevention and control recommendations, influenza vaccination of the physicians and their employees, adhesion to hand hygiene, and mask wearing.

Findings: Among the 122 practices that answered (response rate 73.5%), 90.2% of the responding physicians were themselves vaccinated, and 46.7% (56/120) estimated their staff vaccination coverage to be above 60%, although it was offered to employees in all practices. Most practices (68, 55.7%) had no specific recommendations for their staff concerning mask wearing. Most physicians reported washing or disinfecting their hands before examining a patient (91, 74.6%), after examination (110, 90.2%) and before a medical procedure (112, 91.8%). However, this rate decreased regarding arrival at the practice (78, 63.9%) or leaving it (83, 68.0%).

Conclusion: Most physicians of the Sentinella network are themselves vaccinated. However, the vaccination rates among employees are low, despite vaccine availability. Hand hygiene measures were also sub-optimal. These results warrant further efforts to implement infection prevention and control measures in the ambulatory setting.

Keywords: Influenza; Prevention and Infection Control Measures; Primary Care; Vaccination.