Aerosol generating procedures and risk of transmission of acute respiratory infections to healthcare workers: a systematic review
Aerosol generating procedures (AGPs) may expose health care workers (HCWs) to pathogens causing acute respiratory infections (ARIs), but the risk of transmission of ARIs from AGPs is not fully known. We sought to determine the clinical evidence for the risk of transmission of ARIs to HCWs caring for patients undergoing AGPs compared with the risk of transmission to HCWs caring for patients not undergoing AGPs. We searched PubMed, EMBASE, MEDLINE, CINAHL, the Cochrane Library, University of York CRD databases, EuroScan, LILACS, Indian Medlars, Index Medicus for SE Asia, international health technology agencies and the Internet in all languages for articles from 01/01/1990 to 22/10/2010. Independent reviewers screened abstracts using pre-defined criteria, obtained full-text articles, selected relevant studies, and abstracted data. Disagreements were resolved by consensus. The outcome of interest was risk of ARI transmission. The quality of evidence was rated using the GRADE system. We identified 5 case-control and 5 retrospective cohort studies which evaluated transmission of SARS to HCWs. Procedures reported to present an increased risk of transmission included [n; pooled OR(95%CI)] tracheal intubation [n = 4 cohort; 6.6 (2.3, 18.9), and n = 4 case-control; 6.6 (4.1, 10.6)], non-invasive ventilation [n = 2 cohort; OR 3.1(1.4, 6.8)], tracheotomy [n = 1 case-control; 4.2 (1.5, 11.5)] and manual ventilation before intubation [n = 1 cohort; OR 2.8 (1.3, 6.4)]. Other intubation associated procedures, endotracheal aspiration, suction of body fluids, bronchoscopy, nebulizer treatment, administration of O2, high flow O2, manipulation of O2 mask or BiPAP mask, defibrillation, chest compressions, insertion of nasogastric tube, and collection of sputum were not significant. Our findings suggest that some procedures potentially capable of generating aerosols have been associated with increased risk of SARS transmission to HCWs or were a risk factor for transmission, with the most consistent association across multiple studies identified with tracheal intubation.
Competing Interests: The authors have the following interests: John Conly has received honoraria from the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health for work as an expert reviewer and clinical expert, respectively, for projects on the role of rapid PCR testing for MRSA in hospitalized patients and the use of vancomycin or metronidazole for treatment of Clostridium difficile colitis. He has also received speaker's honoraria related to new anti-bacterial agents from Janssen-Ortho, Pfizer and Astellas Pharma during the past five years. This does not alter the authors' adherence to all the PLoS ONE policies on sharing data and materials.
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