HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Creighton University School of Law

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Defeating the SuperBugs - Screenings

LATimes reports discusses a new study on how hospitals have worked to reduce the spread of infections within their walls.  Judith Graham writes,

Adding to the debate over how to control drug-resistant bacteria, researchers reported Monday that screening all hospital patients could sharply reduce hospital-acquired infections.

The study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine comes a week after a well-publicized study in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. concluded that screening of surgical patients for methicillin-resistant staphyloccocus aureus, or MRSA, isn't particularly effective.

The take-home message is that "a very comprehensive, aggressive MRSA screening program can significantly reduce the number of infections," said Dr. Lance Peterson, founder of the MRSA screening program at Evanston Northwestern Healthcare in Illinois, which published the second report. . . .

In August 2005, Evanston Northwestern became the first hospital group in the U.S. to screen all patients for MRSA. This time, the intervention worked, and hospital-acquired MRSA infections plummeted by 70%.

But an editorial in the Annals of Internal Medicine sounded a note of caution.  Dr. Ebbing Lautenbach of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine questioned which part of the screening intervention worked. Was it the isolation of affected patients, the use of antibiotic ointments, or other actions?  Until further evidence comes in, "each institution may need to tailor its intervention to its unique needs and resources," he concluded.

"Testing high-risk groups isn't enough," he said. "You stop some [of the bacteria's] spread but not enough" to make a difference in hospital-acquired infections.

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Bacteria and their microbial cousins the archaea were the earliest forms of life on Earth. And may have played a role in shaping our planet into one that could support the larger life forms we know today by developing photosynthesis.

Posted by: Janitorial | Sep 1, 2008 12:02:03 AM

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