Why psychiatry is different - challenges and difficulties in managing a nosocomial outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in hospital care.Antimicrob Resist Infect Control. 2020 12 01; 9(1):190.AR
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was officially declared a pandemic in March 2020. Many cases of COVID-19 are nosocomial, but to the best of our knowledge, no nosocomial outbreaks on psychiatric departments of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) have been reported in Europe. The different nature of psychiatry makes outbreak management more difficult. This study determines which psychiatry specific factors contributed to a nosocomial outbreak taking place in a psychiatric department. This will provide possible interventions in future outbreak management.
A case series describing a nosocomial outbreak in a psychiatric department of an acute care hospital in the Netherlands between March 13, 2020 and April, 14 2020. The outbreak was analyzed by combining data from standardized interviews, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests and whole genome sequencing (WGS).
The nosocomial outbreak in which 43% of staff of the psychiatric department and 19% of admitted patients were involved, was caused by healthcare worker (HCW)-to-HCW transmissions, as well as patient-to-HCW-to-patient transmission. We identified four aspects associated with the mental health care system which might have made our department more susceptible to an outbreak.
Infection control measures designed for hospitals are not directly applicable to psychiatric departments. Psychiatric patients should be considered a high-risk group for infectious diseases and customized measures should be designed and implemented. Extra attention for psychiatric departments is necessary during a pandemic as psychiatric HCWs are less familiar with outbreak management. Clear communication and governance is crucial in correctly implementing these measures.