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Transmission of SARS to healthcare workers. The experience of a Hong Kong ICU

Charles D. Gomersall| Gavin M. Joynt| Oi Man Ho| Margaret Ip| Florence Yap| James L. Derrick| Patricia Leung
Original
Volume 32, Issue 4 / April , 2006

Pages 564 - 569

Abstract

Objective

To describe the extent and temporal pattern of transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) to intensive care unit staff.

Design

Retrospective observational cohort study.

Setting

University hospital intensive care unit, caring solely for patients with SARS or suspected to have SARS.

Participants

Thirty-five doctors and 152 nurses and healthcare assistants who worked in the ICU during the SARS epidemic. Interventions: Infection control measures designed to prevent transmission of disease to staff were implemented.

Measurements and results

Sixty-seven patients with SARS were admitted to the intensive care unit. Four nurses and one healthcare assistant contracted SARS, with three of these developing symptoms within 10 days of admission of the first patient with SARS. Doctors were exposed to patients with SARS for a median (IQR) of 284 (97–376) h, while nurses and healthcare assistants were exposed for a median (IQR) of 119 (57–166) h. The ICU did not meet international standards for physical space or ventilation.

Conclusions

In an ICU in which infection control procedures are rigorously applied, the risk to staff of contracting SARS from patients is low, despite long staff exposure times and a sub-standard physical environment.

Keywords

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