There are few data on the rate of compliance with universal precautions among pediatricians. We hypothesized that compliance in pediatrics would be poor because of the intrinsic difficulties in performing invasive procedures in small subjects.
Prospective, observational study.
Tertiary care children's hospital.
A convenience sample of pediatric house staff.
Main Outcome Measures
Pediatric house staff members were observed while performing invasive procedures. Procedure type, number of attempts required, and patient's age and diagnosis were recorded. Degree of compliance with universal precautions was judged by means of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. Comparisons between the compliant and noncompliant groups were analyzed by χ2 and 2-tailed t test.
A total of 128 procedures performed by 43 house officers, 4 advanced medical students, and 3 chief residents or fellows were observed. Sixty-nine (53.9%) of the 128 procedures were performed correctly according to universal precaution guidelines. Rate of compliance did not appear to be influenced by small patient size, as judged by the lack of association with the age of the patient (mean±SD, 4.8±5.7 years among those in whom universal precautions were properly used vs 4.9±5.4 years among patients in whom precaution guidelines were breached; P=.96). Moreover, the number of attempts required in compliant procedures (1.31±0.53) was almost identical to that in noncompliant procedures (1.28±0.49; P =.73). Additionally, compliance did not improve with advanced level of training.
Failure of compliance among pediatricians has no apparent association with procedure difficulty, and compliance rates continue to be poor through the course of pediatric training. These findings underline the need for effective education concerning universal precautions throughout pediatric residency, and they suggest that such efforts will not be precluded by obstacles intrinsic to performing invasive procedures on young subjects.