TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2016

Prevention initiative reduces MRSA in veterans hospitals

Five years after implementing an initiative to reduce methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in Veterans Affairs medical centers, MRSA cases are down, according to a study recently published in the American Journal of Infection Control.

The MRSA Prevention Initiative was implemented in 2007 to battle cases of MRSA, a bacterium that is resistant to many antibiotics. In medical facilities, the bacterium can cause pneumonia, life-threatening bloodstream infections and surgical site infections.

According to the study, the initiative led to significant decreases in the transmission of MRSA and healthcare-associated infection rates within the VA hospitals. Transmission dropped 17 percent for intensive care units and 21 percent for non-ICUs. HAI rates decreased 62 percent in ICUs and 45 percent in non-ICUs. In the two-year period following the initiative's first wave, MRSA transmissions and HAIs dropped 13.7 percent and 44.8 percent in non-ICUs, respectively.

MRSA infection rates held steady in ICUs.

"The analysis... shows that over the ensuing 24 months, MRSA transmission and MRSA HAI rates continued to decrease nationwide," the authors said. "Detailed analysis showed that there were statistically significant declines in MRSA transmissions and MRSA HAIs in non-ICUs but not in the ICUs. The absence of statistically significant trends in the ICUs may be because MRSA transmission and MRSA HAI rates were low."

The MRSA Prevention Initiative uses a bundled approach that includes hand hygiene, an institutional culture change, the use of gowns and gloves when caring for patients colonized or infected with MRSA and screening every patient for MRSA. The initiative also created the position of MRSA prevention coordinator at each VA medical center.