Background: Given the scarce therapeutic options for carbapenemase-producing Enterobacterales (CPE), aggressive interventions are implemented to limit its spread among hospitalized patients. One such option is contact isolation by cohorting patients in designated units. Aim: To describe the experiences in a cohort isolation unit (CIU) due to CPE from the perspectives of patients admitted to this unit and their families, and those of healthcare workers (HCWs) who served in the same unit. Methods: Qualitative study. Face-to-face, semi-structured interviews were conducted in a large tertiary hospital. Twenty-four participants were interviewed, including 15 HCWs, three patients and six family members. Data were coded using thematic analysis. Findings: The CIU provoked negative feelings such as fear, risk, loneliness, distrust and unfairness. They also created a sense of conflict with the curative assumptions of hospital care. The poor CIU infrastructure was echoed in perceptions of crowdedness in the site. Moreover, family members described HCWs' inconsistent protective behaviours that led them to a state of vigilance. The hospital infection control unit imparted and refreshed HCWs' knowledge and expected behaviours regarding the CIU. However, patients and families expressed dissatisfaction with the information, guidance and education regarding the ‘why and how’ of the CIU. They were not guided consistently about recommended behaviours after discharge. In retrospect, HCWs found that the CIU took a psychological, physical and professional toll. Conclusion: The CIU was planned as a temporary containment mechanism. It needs to develop into a permanent system, capable of addressing the various needs of all involved.
- Carbapenemase-producing Enterobacterales (CPE)
- Cohort isolation unit
- Contact isolation precautions
- Qualitative study