Teamwork among local hospitals cuts infection rates

Cooperation and coordination among area hospitals means better infection control than at hospitals acting alone, according to a University of Pittsburgh study published in this month's Health Affairs.

Acknowledging that hospitals often share patients with other nearby facilities, which can transmit methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections, researchers looked at all 29 hospitals in Orange County, Calif., and their use of "contact isolation" to limit the spread of MRSA.

For contact isolation, hospitals screen all patients at admission for MRSA, and for patients that test positive, hospital staff must wear gloves and gowns whenever interacting with them, the study noted.

Such procedures can have a ripple effect on the prevalence of MRSA at hospitals throughout the surrounding region. "For example, doubling the number of hospitals that adopt contact isolation can more than double their improvement in infection control," Bruce Lee, M.D., director of Pitt's Public Health and Infectious Diseases Computational and Operations Research group, said yesterday in a statement.

Moreover, when all hospitals implemented contact isolation with a 75 percent compliance rate, MRSA prevalence dropped an extra 3.85 percent over what each hospital could have achieved on its own. For long-term acute care facilities, infection-control cooperation led to an additional 12.13 percent decline, the study found.

Kansas has seen the benefits of such cooperation, as 59 of its hospitals joined forces and successfully reduced central line-associated bloodstream infections by 79 percent over two years. In fact, at one of the collaborating hospitals, Newton Medical Center's critical care unit, bloodstream infections dropped down to zero between June 2011 and July 2012, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

For more:
- read the research announcement
- here's the study abstract