News | December 10, 2007

Poll of Infection Prevention Professionals Reveals MRSA Prevention Progress Following National Survey

December 11, 2007 - A poll of infection prevention professionals conducted six months after the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology’s (APIC) national MRSA Prevalence Study indicated that while 59 percent of the 2,100 who responded are adopting or already adopted interventions to address Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, 50 percent said their healthcare facility is not doing as much as it could.

MRSA is a virulent multi-drug resistant organism. Interventions adopted ranged from increased hand hygiene compliance and testing of high-risk groups to the more comprehensive approach outlined in APIC’s “Guide to the Elimination of MRSA Transmission in Hospital Settings.”

“We took this informal poll of our membership to get a sense of the pace of progress and what’s changed in the six months since our MRSA Prevalence Study,” said Kathy L. Warye, CEO of APIC. “We are encouraged that many hospitals are empowering infection prevention professionals to implement more MRSA prevention measures. However, it’s concerning that many infection prevention programs are still inadequately funded and that facilities lack resources, staff and buy-in from senior management to prevent the transmission of MRSA.”

Two recent studies brought increased attention to MRSA. In June, APIC released the first national MRSA Prevalence Study, which is being published in the December issue of the American Journal of Infection Control. This was followed by a CDC report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in October.

“Our members understand the severity of this issue and are aggressively addressing MRSA, but the scope of this public health threat demands commitment and participation from every hospital, at all levels of the facility,” said Denise Murphy, president of APIC and vice president of safety and quality, and chief patient safety and quality officer at Barnes-Jewish Hospital at Washington University Medical Center in St. Louis. “Hospitals should commit the resources to conduct a thorough risk assessment of patient populations and implement viable strategies to prevent MRSA and other antimicrobial-resistant infections.”

APIC guidelines for the elimination of MRSA transmission include a risk assessment to identify high-risk areas for MRSA within the hospital; a surveillance program to outline activities and procedures to identify MRSA cases; adherence to CDC hand hygiene guidelines; use of contact precautions (e.g., gloves, gowns and separating MRSA patients from other patients); environmental and equipment cleaning and decontamination, especially items that are close to patients such as bedrails and bedside equipment, and targeted active surveillance cultures (testing of high-risk groups).

“What healthcare leaders need to understand is that these interventions represent pennies on the dollar compared to the costs of infections once they occur,” said Warye. “Reducing these infections saves both lives and scarce resources. APIC will conduct a thorough, formal study with our members in six months, and at that time we expect to see many more facilities in compliance with national guidelines.”

Published in the December 2007 issue of the American Journal of Infection Control, the APIC MRSA Prevalence Study offers the most comprehensive understanding of MRSA to date. The study revealed that MRSA is significantly more widespread throughout healthcare facilities and across every state.

Findings demonstrate MRSA prevalence rates to be 46 in 1,000 patients, eight times higher than previous estimates. Of those, approximately 34 in 1,000 were infected while 12 in 1,000 patients were colonized. The APIC study was the first study to measure rates of both MRSA infection and colonization (patients carrying and able to transmit MRSA), to more accurately determine MRSA prevalence.

For more information on the study and survey visit www.apic.org/Content/NavigationMenu/ResearchFoundation/NationalMRSAPrev alenceStudy/MRSA_Study_Results.htm.

APIC’s mission is to improve health and patient safety by reducing risks of infection and other adverse outcomes. The association’s more than 11,000 members have primary responsibility for infection prevention, control and hospital epidemiology in healthcare settings around the globe.

For more information: www.apic.org

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