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Cheaper Way to Stop MRSA Adds No Patient Risk

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, October 7, 2013

MRSA is generally transmitted from skin to skin while VRE is transmitted via infection in the intestinal tract.

The paper, published in JAMA online Friday to coincide with its release at the IDWeek13 conference in San Francisco, confounds the issue. A paper published this spring in the New England Journal of Medicine suggested that all ICU patients should be presumed infected and treated with both chlorhexidine baths and given an intranasal nasal swab with mupirocin to prevent MRSA.

Harris says that the JAMA paper should be convincing enough to change ICU practice for some. "I have to be honest, if you're a nurse or a doctor, you're much more inclined to say, hey, if I only have to bathe someone with chlorhexidine, I'd much prefer that intervention than having to put on gowns and gloves, which is more labor intensive."

However, there's a potential downside with chlorhexidine, which many worry may promote resistant strains of bacteria in just a few years.

Harris says that in hospitals, "when surgeons decide they need a new robotic instrument for, say, bypass surgery," C-suite leaders don't think that hard about "spending $5 million even though there's no randomized trial data to suggest that the robot will give better surgical efficacy.

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