While COVID-19 is top of mind, hospital-acquired infections, including MRSA, continue to be a concern.
Infection control specialists who are in tune with innovative technologies and strategies can help hospital leaders enact changes that will benefit patient care as well as reduce infection rates. An example of how this can happen is our experience at AdventHealth North Pinellas.
We wanted to take new steps to help prevent MRSA infections, not only because they are dangerous and expensive, but also because we heard about a promising new strategy with a protocol that could help us rethink everything we had previously done. The innovative approach involved rethinking how we mitigate MRSA colonization risk, leveraged the role of the nose in infection and utilized an alcohol-based nasal antiseptic for nasal decolonization. The program helped lower our MRSA rates substantially. It did not require a financial investment since the net result could include substantial savings, but it did call for a change in our processes. As we all know, rethinking protocols can be difficult for healthcare facilities.
Once leadership understood the importance of rethinking our MRSA surgical-site infection protocols, we needed a plan that would show the program's efficacy and the benefit to our hospital system. The next step was to educate all staff involved and put this new protocol through a trial.
The program was designed and implemented across all inpatients and all surgery patients with vendor help. We chose a vendor that could provide those services and that offered an alcohol-based nasal antiseptic for decolonization that had 15 years of safe use and had reference accounts and published outcomes data giving us confidence in our plan. The results were impressive. Within 12 months, we saw a 100% decrease in MRSA surgical wound infection. We also experienced no MRSA surgical site infections during the study period. The universal decolonization protocol reduced isolation, resulting in a 60% reduction in the need for contact precautions. That, in turn, led to more than $104,000 in savings for gowns, gloves and nasal screening tests. Reducing personal protective equipment for these patients became even more important with increased PPE demand because of COVID-19.
Our system leadership was quick to adopt the new protocol as we had results to back it up. However, without leadership buy-in, none of this would have happened. But with a leadership team that encouraged learning and innovation, and that was willing to make operational changes to adopt this new strategy, we implemented this new protocol and saw immediate results that have improved our infection rates and bottom line.