The problem of hospital-acquired infections is far larger than previous CDC estimates, according to an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The article, assessing the number of MRSA “invasive” infections in the United States, shows that for every patient diagnosed with such an infection before being discharged from a healthcare facility, two more patients have actually picked up the germ while in the healthcare facility and only developed the visible signs of infections afterward.
In addition, the data also showed an increasing number of community acquired MRSA infections. It is important to note that these are from a different strain of bacteria, and these infections account for about one-sixth of all MRSA infections.
For several years, the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths (RID) has warned that the CDC estimates were inadequate and its guidelines were inadequate. The CDC counted – as hospital infections – only infections diagnosed before the patients left the hospital, not infections that became apparent afterward. “This new data confirms the problem of hospital infections is far larger and deadlier than the CDC have admitted,” says RID Chairman Betsy McCaughey, Ph.D. “The CDC’s lax guidelines have given hospitals an excuse to do too little.”
The data in JAMA also point to the steps that urgently need to be taken:
1. All hospitals should be inspected yearly for cleanliness. At present,
restaurants, and food processing plants are inspected specifically for
hygiene, but hospitals are not. MRSA spreads from patient to patient
on unclean hands, inadequately cleaned equipment, and contaminated
lab coats and hospital uniforms.
2. Every state should have a patient-screening bill passed. You cannot
stop an infection if you do not know the source. At present only
Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey have passed such legislation.
The research is compelling that screening hospital patients for the
MRSA bacterium is an essential step to stop the rapid spread of MRSA
in hospitals. RID has a model screening bill.
Without rigorous cleaning and routine MRSA screening – “screening and cleaning” – MRSA infections will continue to rage out of control.