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Largest National U.S. Healthcare Facility MRSA Study Reveals,Infection Rates Eight Times Greater Than Previous Estimates

ents a grim picture," said William Jarvis, MD, principal investigator of the study and president and co-founder of Jason and Jarvis Associates, a private consulting firm in healthcare epidemiology. "The findings argue for immediate, aggressive efforts to detect and prevent transmission of MRSA. Because the true magnitude of the total MRSA burden in the U.S. healthcare population is unknown, our objective was to provide the first national estimate of MRSA in U.S. healthcare facilities."

The research indicated that once MRSA cases are identified, healthcare facilities employ recommended practices to prevent transmission of the organism, such as practicing barrier precautions (use of gloves and gowns), hand hygiene and isolating MRSA patients. 81 percent of patients in the study were not identified until they presented signs or symptoms of an active infection prompting doctors to order lab tests. This finding implies that a significant number of patients are potentially transmitting MRSA to healthcare workers and other patients before the bacteria are identified.

"Quite simply this survey is a wake up call for healthcare facilities to save lives by dedicating more resources to infection prevention and control because the transmission of MRSA is preventable," said Denise Murphy, president of APIC and Vice President of Safety and Quality, and Chief Patient Safety and Quality Officer at Barnes-Jewish Hospital at Washington University Medical Center in St. Louis. "Some healthcare facilities are aggressively addressing MRSA, but the scope of this public health threat demands commitment and participation from every hospital, at all levels of the facility. Hospitals should commit the resources to conduct a thorough risk assessment of patient populations and implement viable strategies to prevent MRSA and other antimicrobial-resistant infections. These measures could help prevent this epidemic from continuing to spiral upward and out of control."

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