Hospitals

Study finds patient-friendly approach to combating MRSA in ICU more effective than isolation

Figuring out how to reduce if not eliminate hospital-acquired infections is a big priority for most hospitals and healthcare systems as they seek to improve outcomes, particularly in the intensive care unit where the most vulnerable are placed. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA represents one of the deadliest hospiatl acquired infections. But a new study […]

Figuring out how to reduce if not eliminate hospital-acquired infections is a big priority for most hospitals and healthcare systems as they seek to improve outcomes, particularly in the intensive care unit where the most vulnerable are placed. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA represents one of the deadliest hospiatl acquired infections. But a new study suggests that rather than isolating people with the bacteria, a more patient-friendly approach could be more effective.

The New England Journal of Medicine study found that by washing ICU patients with anti-microbial soap and using a topical antibiotic ointment for five days to kill reservoirs of the bacteria in the nose, Hospital Corporation of America hospitals were able to cut infection rates by 44 percent, according to the study.

The 12 month study involved 74,256 patient at 43 hospitals. Many were community hospitals with single-occupancy ICU rooms. One group used the screening process to identify MRSA patients and isolate and treat patients found to have the bacteria. Another group bathed patients with the antimicrobial soap and administered the antibiotic ointment. A third group took both approaches.

Nine states currently require hospitals to screen patients for the MRSA bacteria — among them are Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and Illinois — and isolate among other precautions, if they do have it. The findings could influence states implementing similar legislation.

It could also have a significant impact on the protocol hospitals use for treating MRSA patients. An NEJM article commenting on the study said that isolation is a patient unfriendly practice that interferes with care and expressed hope that the study results be considered for other hospital acquired infections over isolation.