The second study looked at whether screening patients at admission and use of "barrier precautions" (wearing clean gloves and gowns) when seeing a MRSA or VRE carrier would have an effect on spread within intensive care units. The researchers did not look specifically at infection.
Although many patients carrying MRSA or VRE were identified, the intervention did not have an effect on spread of the bacteria.
"The strategy that we tested as applied in our study would not indicate that this approach is going to be broadly effective, that this would not a one-size-fits-all strategy," said study author Dr. W. Charles Huskins, a consultant in pediatric infectious diseases at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
This may have had to do with the fact that the health-care providers involved did not use barrier precautions as required, the study noted.
There was also a five-day lag between the time a person was checked for the organism and the time the lab tests came back. "In an ICU, anything can happen in terms of transmission of bacteria," Zervos said.
Any number of factors could have contributed to the different findings, including different study designs, Zervos said.
But while other precautions are important, Zervos also said that there is still one tried-and-true method for minimizing spread and infection which is perhaps most important and most underused. That method is simple hand washing.
"Hand washing has been shown to be the most important measure to reduce hospital-related infections . . . but studies have shown that hospitals are only 40-to-60 percent compliant," he said. "That's something we should just not accept. They should be at 100 percent compliance. There's no excuse for pe
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