Kevin Sack with The New York Times reports that a new VA study will "likely to step up pressure by further undercutting the notion, prevalent at many hospitals not long ago, that infections are an unavoidable cost of doing business." Sack points to the larger implications this could have on the safety of all Americans while in hospitals.
An aggressive four-year effort to reduce the spread of deadly bacterial infections at veterans’ hospitals is showing impressive results and may have broad implications at medical centers across the country, according to the first comprehensive assessment of the program, which was released Wednesday afternoon.
The study of 153 Veterans Affairs hospitals nationwide found a 62 percent drop in the rate of infections caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, in intensive care units over a 32-month period. There was a 45 percent drop in MRSA prevalence in other hospital wards, like surgical and rehabilitation units.
The Veterans Affairs strategy employs a “bundle” of measures that include screening all patients with nasal swabs, isolating those who test positive for MRSA, requiring that staff treating those patients wear gloves and gowns and take other contact precautions and encouraging rigorous hand washing. The results may not be easily replicated in the private sector, but they are likely to step up pressure by further undercutting the notion, prevalent at many hospitals not long ago, that infections are an unavoidable cost of doing business.