Institutional culture changes over an eight-year period made infection prevention and control "everyone's business," researchers say. Active surveillance was a major driver.
Hospitals run by the Department of Veterans Affairs continue to see declines in the rate of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections.
For the month of September 2015, only two MRSA HAIs were reported at the ICUs of all of the VA's 127 facilities.
A study in current edition of the American Journal of Infection Control reports that over eight years, monthly MRSA hospital acquired infection (HIA) rates dropped 87% in intensive care units, 80.1% in non-ICUs and 80.9% in spinal cord injury units.
The findings were based on data from 5,530,104 admissions and 23,153,240 patient days.
They study offers an update of previously reported results and reflects national trends. The Centers for Disease Control reports that rates of hospital-onset, severe MRSA infections is falling in the US, a trajectory the agency calls "encouraging."
The MRSA Prevention Initiative
Before 2007, MRSA HAI rates were "unacceptably high" in VA facilities, the authors write. That led to the 2007 launch of the MRSA Prevention Initiative. Infection rates fell as the agency implemented a "bundle of interventions" including universal surveillance on admission, transfer, and discharge, and an emphasis on hand hygiene.
A MRSA prevention coordinator oversees surveillance at each facility using software that extracts data from each patient record.
The researchers also cite the benefits of "institutional culture change… where IPC (infection prevention and control) became everyone's business." They note that they cannot pinpoint which element of the program had the most impact, but suggest the focus on MRSA infections " helped motivate healthcare workers to practice better infection prevention and control measures."
The researchers speculate, however, that active surveillance was a major driver.
"MRSA HAI rates had not changed prior to October 2007 when the initiative was fully implemented, even though formal recommendations for hand hygiene and device-related infection control bundles had been in place for several years," they write.
Tinker Ready is a contributing writer at HealthLeaders Media.