Visitor contact precautions, or VCPs, a common bulwark against Clostridium difficile in the elderly, may make very little difference in infections when compared with small changes in normal daily hygiene, simulation studies have found.

Investigators conducted the studies based on infection control regimen in a one-year simulation model of C. diff transmission in a 200-bed acute care adult hospital. After accounting for factors such as patient susceptibility, behavior and transmission, visitor contact precautions had little effect, contributing to a 1% or less decrease in infection rate. 

But increasing worker hand hygiene and environmental cleaning compliance by no more than 2% were associated with larger infection decreases, reported Nasia Safdar, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Implementing VCPs requires considerable worker and personal protective equipment resources. Healthcare administrators may want to emphasize other infection C. diff prevention measures instead, Safdar and colleagues concluded.

There have been no previous studies of a link between visitor precautions and C. diff rates, the authors said. But other studies have similarly questioned the effectiveness of visitor precautions for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and for vancomycin-resistant Enterococci infections, they noted.

The study was published in JAMA Network Open.