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3 Steps Might Help Stop MRSA's Spread
Date:3/20/2009

E-monitoring of hand washing, better room cleaning and checks on patient transfers are key, studies find,,,,

FRIDAY, March 20 (HealthDay News) -- A high-tech way of monitoring hand washing, a better means of disinfecting rooms and improved tracking of patients as they transfer from one hospital to another could all help prevent the spread of the MRSA "superbug" and other pathogens, researchers report.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a type of staph bacteria that's resistant to certain antibiotics. It can cause severe infections for people in hospitals and other health-care facilities, such as nursing homes. MRSA can also cause serious skin infections in healthy people who have not recently been hospitalized.

But MRSA can be beaten, suggest three studies that were to be presented this week at the annual meeting in San Diego of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America.

In the first report, Dr. Philip Polgreen, an assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Iowa, described an inexpensive way of electronically monitoring staff to be sure that they wash their hands before entering an intensive care unit. The system uses a wireless technology similar to Wi-Fi to transmit signals to a computer.

"Hand washing is one of the most important actions health-care workers can take to protect patients from developing hospital-acquired infections," Polgreen said during a March 12 media teleconference. "Yet hand hygiene compliance among physicians, nurses and other health-care workers remains unacceptably low," he said.

Currently, many hospitals have staff sit outside hospital rooms to record when people wash their hands, Polgreen noted.

In the new system, health-care workers wear a badge that interacts with a sensor on an automated hygiene dispenser placed outside or inside patients' rooms. Using this method, researchers were able to determine co
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