Study: Broad testing can slash MRSA rates

Last week, a study appearing in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggested that screening surgical patients for MRSA isn't particularly effective in blocking the spread of the disease. Now, a new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine has concluded that screening of all hospital patients for MRSA can significantly reduce hospital-acquired infections. While the two might seem to be at odds, some observers say the two studies actually aren't contradictory. The message, researchers say, is that it's not enough to test just high-risk groups; it's critical to test your entire population if you really want to slow progression of the disease, they suggest.

The recent study, done at Evanston Northwestern, began by determining that bout 8.5 percent of all patients had the bacteria on their bodies. The researchers then began testing all patients being admitted to the ICU for the presence of MRSA, the placed them in isolation with special precautions to avoid the spread of disease. (This is what the state of Illinois requires all hospitals to do.) As it happened, however, this did nothing to cut Evanston's MRSA rates. However, in 2005, Evanston began testing all patients for MRSA. At that point, hospital-acquired MRSA rates dropped 70 percent.

This is a strong argument for instituting state or even federal rules requiring universal MRSA testing, don't you think?

To learn more about the new research:
- read this Chicago Tribune piece

Related Articles:
Study: MRSA testing may not help. Report
Case study: NY hospital isolates MRSA patients. Report
Case study: NC hospital cuts MRSA rates. Report
VA program slashes MRSA infection rates. Report
Study: Disinfectant cuts down on MRSA. Report

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