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MRSA Investigation Shows Inconsistencies In Screening

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, November 17, 2008 12:11 PM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: MRSA, Staph Infection, Toxic Substances, Hospital Acquired Infections

Seattle Times investigates exploding MRSA infection rate and finds inconsistencies in screening.



IMAGE SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons/ protective clothing on hospital staff/ author: IdS


MRSA, methicillin-resistant staph infection is everywhere, according to a series in the Seattle Times.

It looked at the failure of hospitals in Washington state to contain MRSA and finds no consistent policy of screening for carriers or live infections.

The “Culture of Resistance” series took into account hospital records in an effort to find out why this infection is mysteriously spreading at an alarming rate.

The reporting team found that MRSA hospital infections exploded from 141 to nearly 5,000 cases over the past decade. The paper didn’t even take in all of the latest data.

Surprisingly, the numbers don’t appear in public documents and state regulators don’t track the germ or its victims. Additionally, hospitals in the state do not have to notify anyone of the infection rate.

The reporters found an additional 672 patients whose deaths were previously not attributed to MRSA.

Testing patients for MRSA infections before they are admitted to the hospital has been suggested by leading organizations, but the paper finds that is not done consistently.

For example, Swedish Medical Center in Seattle routine tests patients having elective surgery, but not in the ICU while Sacred Heart does not test before surgery but does for entry into the ICU. The test runs about $20 and it tells hospitals who is a carrier and who is infected.  An infected patient needs to be isolated and treated.

The series also talks about a lack of basic sanitation, for example, a nurse who dropped two packets of pills on the floor, picked them up and put them back into cup and gave them to a patient.

MRSA — methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus — is an antibiotic-resistant form of the common staph germ. It survives on most any surface but thrives on moist areas of the skin, especially the nose. 

It has evolved over time to gain an increasing resistance to antibiotics and developed strains tougher to treat.  It can be transmitted by surfaces or by touch. The pathogen enters the body through breaks in the skin and can be fatal if it enters the blood stream. 

MRSA spreads through hospitals, still the main source of transmission, as well as health-care facilities. 

Increasingly, MRSA is spread through playgrounds and locker rooms.

IB News recently reported about a Minneapolis wrestling camp where one-quarter of the wrestlers were infected with MRSA in 2006.

The following year, researchers tested coaches' and counselors' noses for MRSA and found about half were carriers. The nose is a place for the bacteria to colonize since it prefers a wet and warm environment.

Once researchers from the University of Minnesota removed the contaminant, infections dropped.

“When we found the rate was that high among the counselors, that was amazing to me,'' said researcher Bruce Anderson to Bloomberg. 

The CDC says that MRSA infected more than 94,000 people in 2005 and killed more than 18,000. 

Washing your hands after being in a public place is still the best preventative as well as not sharing towels, razors and bars of soap. #

1 Comment

Posted by Jeff Goldman
Tuesday, November 18, 2008 9:33 AM EST

One area often overlooked in the battle against the transfer of dangerous infectious diseases in medical environments are the ubiquitous keyboards and mice. Standard keyboards and mice can not be disinfected because germs collect around and in seams and under keys. Recently Man & Machine, Inc. released a White Paper titled, “Minimizing Transmission of Infectious Disease in Heath Care Environments by Use of Disinfectable PC Keyboards and Mice.” It can be viewed at: LINK

Comments for this article are closed.

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