Initiative cuts MRSA by more than a third in veterans' nursing homes, report shows

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A nationwide initiative to reduce methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in veterans' nursing homes dramatically slashed the infection rate, and could provide a framework for other nursing homes to achieve similar results.

The MRSA infection rate decreased 36% over the 42-month study period, according to results published in January in the American Journal of Infection Control. This was despite admissions with MRSA colonization increasing, the report noted. The initiative included 133 Veterans Affairs long-term care facilities.

The MRSA Prevention Initiative involved screening every patient for MRSA, using gowns and gloves when caring for those patients, strict hand hygiene and “institutional culture change” that focused on individual responsibility for infection control. Each center also created a position for a MRSA Prevention Coordinator.

The MRSA Prevention Initiative “was also associated with decreased rates of MRSA [healthcare acquired infections] in VA community living centers without a corresponding decrease in MRSA admission prevalence," the authors wrote.

Implementing the initiative throughout “the network of healthcare venues in which an individual may seek care” probably helped amplify the effectiveness of the infection control protocols, according to the report.

Residents with incontinence, heavy draining wounds or poor hygiene are at increased risk for MRSA, one infection control resident said last spring.

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