Disinfecting All ICU Patients Dramatically Curbs ‘Superbug’ Infections
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online
Treating all intensive care patients with antibacterial soap and disinfecting ointments could help reduce the presence of the antibiotic-resistant superbug, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), in hospital ICU units by more than one-third, according to a new study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
According to NPR´s Rob Stein, the research — which looked at nearly 75,000 patients in 74 different ICUs nationwide — discovered that universal decontamination with the soap-and-ointment mixture decreased all bloodstream infections, including those involving MRSA, by 44 percent.
“For the patients in groups that got disinfected no matter what, there were 3.6 infections per 1,000 days in the hospital. That result compared with a baseline of 6.1 infections per 1,000 days beforehand,” Stein explained.
The process, which involved washing patients with cloths containing the antimicrobial soap chlorhexidine and then administering the nasal antibiotic ointment mupirocin, also resulted in a 37 percent decrease in incidents of MRSA-positive cultures in those ICUs.
“In contrast, there was no significant decrease in infections in a group of patients who were first screened and then isolated if they were found to carry MRSA,” Landro said. She added that a third group, in which all patients were tested, then isolated and given the soap-and-ointment treatment if they tested positive for MRSA, demonstrated only a 22 percent reduction in infections.
The research was funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services, and included experts from the University of California, Irvine, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The trial took place in two stages from 2009 through 2011 and was conducted through CDC and Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) research programs.
“Patients in the ICU are already very sick, and the last thing they need to deal with is a preventable infection,” said AHRQ Director Dr. Carolyn M. Clancy in a statement. “This research has the potential to influence clinical practice significantly and create a safer environment where patients can heal without harm.”
Dr. Susan Huang, medical director for infection prevention at the UC Irvine Medical Center and first author of the study, told the Los Angeles Times that since all ICU patients are at “high risk” of MRSA infection, “why not give them all the treatment?” She added that her team´s findings would “move ICUs to make this standard practice.”