VA makes big strides in efforts to reduce hospital-acquired MRSA infections

by | January 26, 2017

by Paige Minemyer |
Jan 5, 2017 4:06pm

The Department of Veterans Affairs has made significant progress with its efforts to reduce methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) at its facilities.
The research, published in the American Journal of Infection Control, found that over an eight-year period, MRSA hospital-acquired infection rates dropped by 87% in intensive care units and 80% in wards outside the ICU. Significant reductions were also recorded at the VA’s long-term care facilities, according the study, as HAI rates dropped by nearly 50% between July 2009 and September 2015.
VA hospitals established the reduction initiative in 2007 as MRSA infection rates were “unacceptably high,” according to the study announcement. A 2013 study found that the program had already led to significant reductions in MRSA infection rates between 2007 and 2012. A dedicated MRSA prevention coordinator was added to each facility, according to the announcement, and the program emphasized hand-hygiene, better screening during transfers or discharges and a culture change that put a spotlight on infection control.
“Understanding how and why rates of MRSA have diminished in recent years is essential for the continued progress of effective prevention programs,” lead study author Martin E. Evans, M.D., a doctor at Lexington VA Medical Center, said in the announcement. “As we seek to protect patients from MRSA and other resistant organisms, our study supports the need for strong infection prevention programs at every healthcare facility.”
The federal government will begin penalizing hospitals this year for high MRSA infection rates. Many of the biggest names in the industry have trouble controlling hospital-acquired infections, like MRSA and Clostridium difficile, which can be deadly for patients. Better hand-hygiene compliance and antibiotic stewardship programs are key solutions promoted by infection control experts.

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