MRSA infections down at veterans hospitals
The Veterans Administration reports that it has reduced MRSA infections by 50 percent in its intensive care units around the country during the first three years of a special initiative.
MRSA, or methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is an antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can be life threatening, especially in the ICU – and the results of the initiative, now in its fourth year, could help other hospitals design programs to cut down on the infections.
“This is a landmark initiative for VA and health care in general,” said Dr. Robert Petzel, VA’s under secretary for health, in a statement. “No one should have to worry about acquiring an illness or infection from the place they trust to deliver their care. I am proud that VA is leading the way.”
The VA implemented four infection control practices, including patient screening, contact precautions for patients found to have MRSA and extra hand sanitizer stations and hygiene reminders. The initiative also involved changing the culture so everyone felt infection control was a personal responsibility.
The VA has more than 1,000 U.S. facilities that serve more than 6 million veterans a year. More than 1.7 million screening tests for MRSA were conducted as part of the new initiative.
The Baltimore VA Medical Center was one of the five test sites for the first phase of the initiative, the VA reports. The city has rate of community infection, rather than those who become infected in the hospital, twice the national average and that helped local clinicians develop an expertise.
They had been doing their own research and helped establish protocols to reduce the local rate over the years. Now there are systemwide declines, and the results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.