The rates of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, a drug-resistant bacteria that can be deadly to patients with compromised immune systems, is eight to 11 times higher in hospital settings than previously estimated, according to a report released today by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.
Researchers of the report, titled the National MRSA Prevalence Study, collected data on MRSA-identified patients from 21% of acute-care hospitals (or 1,237 facilities), with facilities from all 50 states participating in the study. Researchers found death rates among patients with MRSA were 2.5 times higher than among patients with staph infections that were susceptible to treatment with an antibiotic. The cost for treating MRSA-infected patients was also much higher than treating those with other healthcare-associated infections: $35,367 compared with $13,973.
The superbug now represents 60% of all healthcare-associated infections compared with just 2% in 1972, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Reducing or eliminating MRSA infection, which is passed to patients through contact with unwashed hands or contaminated gloves and medical equipment, could substantially decrease the rates of death due to hospital-acquired infections, the associations epidemiologists said. The groups eight-point prevention guidelines for hospitals includes developing an MRSA risk-assessment program using past and current infections-rate data; developing a comprehensive surveillance program; enforcing handwashing hygiene and the wearing of appropriate barrier clothing among healthcare providers and other workers who come in contact with patients; and isolating MRSA-infected patients. -- by Shawn Rhea