EMRs can improve infection control

The dreaded MRSA infection has one enemy your infection control officer might not have thought of: Your hospital's EMR. 

In an article in the November issue of the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, researchers report that when staff have access to an EMR, they are more likely to review charts and recommend the infection control measures. The result: MRSA infections at two North Carolina hospitals--East Carolina University and Pitt County Memorial Hospital--fell by 45 percent, and nosocomial infections from clostridium dropped 19 percent. The study reviewed infection rates from January 2005 through December 2009.

Interestingly, as their infection rates were falling, the hospitals also reduced their use of antimicrobial agents by 19 percent. 

The EMR helps by giving pharmacists order sets for antibiotic use, which reduced "excessively high" antibiotic doses, according to the report. Having electronic access to patient information and physician orders also encouraged pharmacists to intervene when they saw a potential problem.

"Infections with MRSA and C. difficile are associated with an increase in hospital length of stay, high mortality and increased hospital costs," the authors wrote. "Our data support the use of an EMR with CPOE as a means of reducing unnecessary antimicrobial use."

For more information:
- here's the journal article
- read this HISTalk blog post