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ICU Rooms Home to Many Resistant Infections

Intensive care unit rooms occupied by people with antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections may cause the next patient to be at risk of acquiring// these dangerous infections, according to a U.S. study.

Bacteria such as the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) two kinds of antibiotic resistant bacteria which are major causes of illness and death in hospitals.

The study, conducted by researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, included more than 8,200 patients, average age 61, who totaled 11,528 stays at eight ICUs between 2003 and 2005. When admitted to ICU, 809 of these had MRSA, and 658 had VRE upon admittance to the ICU.

Of the remaining patients, 14 percent stayed in rooms in which the prior occupant had MRSA, and 13 percent stayed in rooms in which the prior occupant had VRE.

The study revealed that these patients had greater likelihood of acquiring these bacteria than patients in rooms previously occupied by patients who did not have these bacteria.

The researchers published their study in the Oct. 9 issue of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine where they concluded that this added risk factor accounted for 5.1 percent of all new cases of MRSA and 6.8 percent of all new cases of VRE.

It was found that this increase in risk was present in spite of room-cleaning procedures in the hospital that exceeded U.S. national guidelines. The study authors suggested that these guidelines do not prevent transmission of disease-causing bacteria.

The authors concluded, "Additional data are needed to determine whether more intensive cleaning practices can reduce the risk further and, if so, whether this is worthwhile in a resource-limited system."

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