Hospitals that cooperate on infection control fare better than hospitals acting alone

October 9, 2012

An individual hospital's infection control efforts have a ripple effect on the prevalence of a deadly and highly infectious bacterium in hospitals throughout its surrounding region, a multi-center research group led by the University of Pittsburgh demonstrated in a computer simulation-based study.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, infections are better prevented when hospitals cooperate and coordinate their infection control procedures. Hospitals working alone do not achieve the same level of infection control, according to the results of the study published in the October issue of the journal Health Affairs.

"Unless they are associated financially or legally, hospitals often have their own separate infection control programs and procedures," said Bruce Lee, M.D., M.B.A., director of Pitt's Public Health and Computational and (PHICOR) group. "However, hospitals are rarely isolated islands and instead share patients extensively with other hospitals in their area, which can facilitate the spread of ."

Lee and his colleagues obtained real-world data from all 29 hospitals in , Calif., and developed a computer simulation to assess a procedure called "contact isolation" to limit MRSA transmission. The procedure involves testing all patients for MRSA upon admission to a hospital. When a patient tests positive, must wear gloves and gowns whenever entering that patient's room or interacting with that person.

The simulation explored scenarios in which different combinations of hospitals implemented contact isolation to varying degrees.

"The more that hospitals work together and coordinate infection control efforts, the more they all benefit," said Dr. Lee, also an associate professor of medicine, epidemiology and at Pitt's School of Medicine and Graduate School of Public Health. "For example, doubling the number of hospitals that adopt contact isolation can more than double their improvement in ."

The simulation also found that requiring contact isolation at one hospital not only decreased MRSA at that hospital as expected, but also did so in other nearby hospitals that had not implemented the intervention.

When the simulation was run with all the hospitals in Orange County implementing contact isolation simultaneously with a 75 percent compliance rate, MRSA prevalence decreased an additional 3.85 percent over what the hospitals could have achieved on their own. Long-term acute care facilities fared even better, with a 12.13 percent additional decrease.

The simulation relies extensively on data regarding infection rates, annual admissions, average patient length-of-stay, hospital transfers, readmissions, number of intensive care units and bed capacity at the Orange County hospitals.

MRSA is widely prevalent in U.S. hospitals. In 2006, the MRSA colonization rate, or detection of the bacteria on a patient's skin or soft tissue, was 12 per 1,000 inpatients. In 2010, the rate nearly quadrupled to 41 per 1,000 inpatients despite an overall decrease in the rates of MRSA infection.

The researchers had shown previously that hospitals in Orange County, which has a population of 3 million, are highly interconnected through patient transfers and readmission of patients to different hospitals after an intervening stay at home or elsewhere.

Some hospitals have started cooperating to control hospital-acquired infections. In California, the Safety Net Initiative is building a learning collaborative among California public hospitals to reduce such infections. The Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative has successfully created a culture of change to improve overall patient safety. Similar programs in Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, South Dakota and Wisconsin also have successfully reduced -acquired infections.

Explore further: Most California hospitals implementing infection control

Related Stories

Most California hospitals implementing infection control

March 17, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Most California hospitals implement some policies to improve infection control for multidrug-resistant organisms (MDRO), primarily methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), but few policies are associated ...

Infection control certification associated with lower MRSA infection rates

March 9, 2012
Hospitals whose infection prevention and control programs are led by a director who is board certified in infection prevention and control have significantly lower rates of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) ...

Common themes emerge in hospitals' anti-MRSA efforts

August 11, 2011
Researchers from the Indiana University have identified common barriers and strategies for successfully implementing practice changes in Intensive Care Units (ICUs). The study, published in the August issue of Infection Control ...

MRSA superbug spreads from big city hospitals to regional health centers, study suggests

May 14, 2012
Hospitals in large cities act as breeding grounds for the superbug MRSA prior to it spreading to smaller hospitals, a study suggests.

Recommended for you

New Lyme disease tests could offer quicker, more accurate detection

December 7, 2017
New tests to detect early Lyme disease - which is increasing beyond the summer months -could replace existing tests that often do not clearly identify the infection before health problems occur.

Spinal tap needle type impacts the risk of complications

December 6, 2017
The type of needle used during a lumbar puncture makes a significant difference in the subsequent occurrence of headache, nerve irritation and hearing disturbance in patients, according to a study by Hamilton medical researchers.

Men with HPV are 20 times more likely to be reinfected after one year

December 5, 2017
A new analysis of genital human papillomavirus (HPV) in men shows that infection with one HPV type strongly increases the risk of reinfection with the same type. In fact, men who are infected with the type responsible for ...

New tuberculosis drugs possible with understanding of old antibiotic

December 5, 2017
Tuberculosis, and other life-threatening microbial diseases, could be more effectively tackled with future drugs, thanks to new research into an old antibiotic by the University of Warwick and The Francis Crick Institute.

Scientists create successful mass production system for bioengineered livers

December 5, 2017
Researchers report creating a biologically accurate mass-production platform that overcomes major barriers to bioengineering human liver tissues suitable for therapeutic transplant into people.

Trials show inactivated Zika virus vaccine is safe and immunogenic

December 5, 2017
The investigational Zika purified inactivated virus (ZPIV) vaccine was well-tolerated and induced an immune response in participants, according to initial results from three Phase 1 clinical trials. Scientists at the Walter ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.