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Being admitted to the hospital can be an altogether frightening experience. However, this experience can become all the more frightening if you develop a Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, infection. For those unfamiliar with a MRSA infection, it is defined by the Mayo Clinic as a potentially deadly infection that is “caused by a strain of staph bacteria that’s become resistant to the antibiotics commonly used to treat ordinary staph infections.”
As if this wasn’t disconcerting enough, statistics show that back in 2006 the MRSA colonization rate was 12 per 1,000 inpatients, while in 2010 it had almost quadrupled to 41 per 1,000 inpatients.
Interestingly, a recently published study lead by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh indicates that if hospitals actually made a concerted effort to cooperate and coordinate their infection control procedures, they could dramatically reduce the threat posed by MRSA.
The researchers arrived at this conclusion by constructing a computer simulation utilizing real world data — infection rates, bed capacity, average length of stay etc. — from 29 hospitals in Orange County, California that are separate yet still highly connected due to high rates of readmissions and patient transfers.
Here the computer simulation was designed to measure the impact of “contact isolation” on reducing the spread of MRSA. Contact isolation is essentially a procedure in which all patients are tested for MRSA after being admitted to the hospital, and in the event they test positive, requires all medical staff to wear gowns and gloves whenever interacting with them.
The researchers discovered via the computer simulation that the greater the degree to which hospitals implemented control isolation, the greater the reduction in the spread of MRSA.
“The more that hospitals work together and coordinate infection control efforts, the more they all benefit,” said Dr. Bruce Lee, one of the primary authors of the study. “For example, doubling the number of hospitals that adopt contact isolation can more than double their improvement in infection control.”
In fact, when the researchers ran the simulation with all 29 hospitals utilizing contact isolation and a 75 percent compliance rate, the rate of MRSA declined by an extra 3.85 percent.
While studies like these are certainly encouraging, they simply aren’t reflective of how things really are in some hospitals here in Pennsylvania and across the U.S. The reality is that many hospitals, despite knowing the risks involved, have failed to implement adequate infection control measures and it’s the patients that suffer.
Be sure to contact an experienced legal professional if you believe that hospital negligence has left you or a loved one seriously injured or worse.
Sources: University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, “Hospitals that cooperate on infection control fare better than hospitals acting alone,” Oct. 9, 2012; The Mayo Clinic, “Definition: MRSA infection”