Eight Years Later, VHA’s ‘MRSA Bundle’ Continues to Push Down Infection Rates

By Annette M. Boyle

Martin E. Evans, MD, of the Lexington, KY, VAMC

LEXINGTON, KY—When the VHA implemented a nationwide prevention initiative against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), healthcare facility-associated infections (HAIs) were unacceptably high.

Eight years later, the healthcare system continued to make notable progress, according to a study published last month in the American Journal of Infection Control, the official journal of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).1

Martin E. Evans, MD, of the Lexington, KY, VAMC, and colleagues from the VHA MRSA/MDRO Program Office, National Infectious Diseases Service reported that, between October 2007 and September 2015, monthly HAI rates dropped 87% in  intensive care units (ICUs), 80.1% in non-ICUs and 80.9% in spinal-cord injury units (SCIUs).

In long-term care facilities (LTCFs), meanwhile, institutionally-acquired infection rates fell 49.4% from July 2009 to September 2015.

“Understanding how and why rates of MRSA have diminished in recent years is essential for the continued progress of effective prevention programs,” Evans explained. “As we seek to protect patients from MRSA and other resistant organisms, our study supports the need for strong infection prevention programs at every healthcare facility.”

In fact, during the last month of the reporting period, only two MRSA HAIs were reported in ICUs, 20 in non-ICUs—three of those in SCIU—and 31 in LTCFs nationwide.

Michael McGowan, a housekeeping aide uses a pulsed-xenon ultraviolet room disinfection device at Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital in Columbia, MO. VA photo

“SCIU patients are very challenging because of their debility and dependence on devices for feeding, management of urine, sometimes breathing, etc. They have multiple admissions, multiple infections and over time are exposed to multiple courses of antibiotics,” Evans told U.S. Medicine. “The VA SCIUs have actually done an amazing job decreasing MRSA HAIs and keeping them low in their patients as documented in our publications.”

Results from previous studies published by the researchers demonstrated a significant decline in MRSA transmissions and MRSA HAIs between October 2007 and June 2012 in acute care medical centers, between October 2007 and June 2011 in SCIUs and between July 2009 and December 2012 in LTCFs. The current report brings the MRSA transmission and HAI trends up to eight years since implementation of the program.

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