New guidelines aim to reduce the prevalence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), improve patient safety, and prioritize current prevention efforts underway in hospitals. This drug-resistant bacterium is a common source of patient morbidity and mortality in U.S. hospitals, causing nearly twice the number of deaths, significantly longer hospital stays, and higher hospital costs than other forms of the bacteria.
The strategies were published in the July issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology and produced in a collaborative effort led by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the American Hospital Association, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, and The Joint Commission.
Key highlights from the guidelines include:
- Conduct a MRSA risk assessment: During the assessment, two important factors to focus on include the opportunity for MRSA transmission (i.e., number of patients who are MRSA carriers and produce risk for transmission) and estimates of facility-specific MRSA burden and rates of transmission and infection (i.e., the ability of the facility’s current activities to contain MRSA).
- Implement a MRSA monitoring program and track rates: Goals of the program should focus on identifying any patient with a current or prior history of MRSA and provide a mechanism for tracking hospital-onset cases of the infection. Alerts should be sent out from the laboratory to notify healthcare personnel of new colonization or cases of MRSA.
- Ensure compliance on hand hygiene recommendations: Healthcare personnel should perform hand hygiene in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations.
- Ensure compliance with contact precautions for MRSA-colonized and infected patients: Patients colonized with MRSA should be separated from the general patient population and healthcare personnel should wear gloves and gowns when interacting with this patient population to prevent the spread of the bacteria.
- Ensure proper cleaning and disinfection of equipment and environment: Because contamination can be widespread among the patient’s environment, optimal cleaning and disinfection procedures should be employed.
- Educate healthcare personnel, patients, and families about MRSA: Personnel, patients, and families should be made aware of risk and their role in prevention, transmission, and recommended precautions.
- Implement an alert system: Notification of laboratory-identified or readmitted patients with MRSA should be instituted to provide timely information and allow prompt initiation of control measures.
- Calfee DP, Salgado CD, Millstone M, et al.; SHEA/IDSA Practice Recommendation. Strategies to prevent methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus transmission and infection in acute care hospitals: 2014 update. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2014; 35(7):772-796. Full text available at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/676534. Accessed June 19, 2014.