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Studies Highlight Challenge of Controlling Resistant Bacteria in Hospitals
Date:4/13/2011

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, April 13 (HealthDay News) -- Two new studies highlight the complexities hospitals face in controlling and containing the spread of potentially lethal bacteria that are resistant to many antibiotics.

While one study showed that certain interventions could decrease transmissions and infections with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), the other found no improvement when a somewhat different set of precautions were used. The second study looked at both MRSA and vancomycin-resistant enterococcus (VRE).

Overall, though, the news can still be viewed in a positive light, said one expert.

"These organisms are very difficult to manage, but what we have seen over the last several years is that many of these infections are preventable by a variety of measures," said Dr. Marcus Zervos, director of infection control at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit.

Zervos was not involved in the studies, which appear in the April 14 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

MRSA, which is resistant to all first-line antibiotics, has become a scourge of hospitals. According to an accompanying editorial, MRSA affects more than a quarter of a million hospitalizations each year and contributes to many thousands of deaths annually.

The first study, conducted at different Veterans Affairs Hospitals around the United States, looked at the effect of screening incoming patients for MRSA as well as "contact precautions" such as donning clean gloves and gowns along with using better hand hygiene and educating all staff to consider themselves responsible for infection.

Between October 2007 and June 2010, implementation of this "MRSA bundle" reduced the rate of infections with MRSA and VRE in intensive care units (ICUs) from 1.64 per 1,000 patient days to 0.62 per 1,000 patient days, a 62 percent decline.

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