Computer simulation shows hospitals' MSRA rates are interconnected

A recent computer simulation-based study shows that an individual hospital's infection control efforts can limit the prevalence of a deadly and infectious bacterium in the hospitals located throughout its surrounding area.

The study, performed by a multi-center research group led by the University of Pittsburgh, demonstrated that methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections are better prevented when hospitals manage and coordinate their infection control procedures, according to

Hospitals conducting infection control procedures alone did not achieve the same level of prevention, according to the study's results, which were recently published in the journal Health Affairs.

"Unless they are associated financially or legally, hospitals often have their own separate infection control programs and procedures," Dr. Bruce Lee, the director of Pitt's Public Health and Infectious Diseases Computational and Operations Research group, said, reports. "However, hospitals are rarely isolated islands and instead share patients extensively with other hospitals in their area, which can facilitate the spread of MRSA infections."

Lee and the other researchers used real data from all 29 hospitals located in Orange County, California, and developed a computer simulation to assess a procedure called contact isolation, which was developed to limit the spread of MRSA. The procedure consists of testing all patients for MSRA when they are admitted to the hospital and then requiring hospital staff to wear gloves and gowns whenever interacting with a positive patient.

The simulation analyzed a variety of scenarios in which the hospitals followed contact isolation procedures to varying degrees.

"The more that hospitals work together and coordinate infection control efforts, the more they all benefit," Lee said, according to "For example, doubling the number of hospitals that adopt contact isolation can more than double their improvement in infection control."

The simulation also found that if a single hospital followed contact isolation procedures then MSRA incidents declined at that hospital, as well as at surrounding hospitals.