Researchers show how MRSA contact precautions lead to better hand hygiene

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Contact precautions for patients with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus led to healthcare workers practicing better hand hygiene, a study has found.

Researchers had “secret shoppers” look at employees at four hospitals performing routine care over 19 months. They found contact precautions, which require patients to be isolated or grouped with other patients with MRSA or antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as Clostridium difficile, influenced how healthcare workers acted.

They were less likely to visit patients under contact precautions, but after a visit were 15.8% more likely to practice hand hygiene. Researchers suggested caution with contact precautions, since those patients are at a higher risk for developing delirium, increased risk of falls, or pressure ulcers.

"Fewer visits and increased hand hygiene are important in preventing the spread healthcare-associated infections, but clinicians and epidemiologists need to consider both the positive and negative aspects of these interventions, including the effect to patients' mental well-being and perception of care,” said Daniel J. Morgan, M.D., MS, an assistant professor at the University of Maryland.

Results will be published in the January issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, the journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America.

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