Hospital Infections Drastically Reduced
October 18, 2012

Decrease In Infections Of Hospital’s Sickest Patients

Connie K. Ho for — Your Universe Online

Researchers from various organizations recently gathered for the kick-off of Infectious Disease Week 2012 in San Diego, California. One of the first presentations on display was a study on antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Researchers from the project believe that antimicrobial soap and ointment can help reduce bloodstream infection for patients who are under intensive care. With the results of the study, they could possibly improve health care practices.

The trial was conducted from 2010 to 2011 as a collaborative project among different universities, the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHR), and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In the study, almost 75,00 patients from 43 different community hospitals throughout 16 states participated. Researchers spoke with the hospital´s quality improvement team and patients to better understand the routine medical care. They discovered that there might be “universal decolonization” of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) that has spread to a number of hospitals in the country.

“This trial provides strong evidence that removing bacteria from the skin and nose is highly effective at preventing serious infection in high-risk ICU patients,” explained lead researcher Dr. Susan Huang, an associate professor at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, in a prepared statement.

The researchers randomly assigned the 43 participating hospitals in different groups. One group focused on continual routine care by screening ICU patients and isolating patients with bacteria. Another group also screened patients, but offered the patient´s chlorhexidine soap and nasal mupircoin ointment to help remove the MRSA. The last group didn´t screen any patients, but treated every patient who was admitted with a daily chlorhexidine bath and a five-day treatment of mupirocin ointment in the nose.

In particular, the team of investigators determined that many patients who had MRSA decreased by over a third and that bloodstream infections due to MRSA and other pathogens were also reduced by almost half.

“A 44 percent reduction in infection is very promising for improving medical care and protecting highly vulnerable patients,” continued Huang in the statement. “It suggests that treating all ICU patients with this strategy is beneficial. This approach may make screening for drug-resistant organisms unnecessary,” continued Huang, who serves as and medical director of epidemiology and infection prevention at University of California, Irvine Healthcare, in the statement.

The scientists believe that the findings of the project could help implement changes in bedside clinical practice. There is a variety of infection due to bacteria that is antibiotic-resistant as well as found on the skin and on the nose. These infections could be preventable, but end up causing serious problems for patients, heightening risk of death, and increasing health costs.

However, the results should only be applied to ICUs so that the bacteria do not develop resistance to the antimicrobial soap and ointment.

“We know that easy-to-use solutions help clinicians protect patients from MRSA and other drug-resistant infections that are known to be deadly for patients in healthcare settings,” noted Dr. Scott Fridkin, a CDC senior epidemiologist and vice chair of ID Week, in the statement. “The ultimate goal of this effort is to prevent infections and save patients´ lives.”