Better Cleaning in ICUs Lowers MRSA Infection Rates

TUESDAY March 29, 2011 -- Enhanced cleaning of hospital intensive care units reduces the risk of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection for patients placed in a room previously occupied by someone with MRSA, a new study finds.

MRSA is a a type of staph infection resistant to all first-line antibiotics.

Researchers compared MRSA rates among patients admitted to 10 ICUs at a 750-bed academic medical center before and after implementation of an enhanced cleaning program.

The program included inspections of cleaning efforts and feedback to staff, changing how the disinfectant was applied (from pouring from bottles onto cleaning cloths to immersing cloths in buckets), and educating staff about the importance of repeatedly immersing the cloths in buckets during cleaning.

The rate of MRSA infections among patients in rooms previously occupied by patients with MRSA decreased from 3 percent (305 of 10,151) to 1.5 percent (182 of 11,849) after introduction of the enhanced cleaning program.

In addition, rates of vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) infection decreased from 3 percent (314 of 10,349) to 2.2 percent (256 of 11,871).

"Environmental contamination with multidrug-resistant organisms may facilitate the spread of health care-associated infections," the report noted, adding that this is particularly important in ICUs, in which patients are at high risk of infection due to co-exisiting illnesses, wounds and the use of medical devices.

"Whereas enhanced ICU cleaning appears to be effective in decreasing MRSA and VRE transmission, it may be more effective in reducing transmission of MRSA compared with VRE. Reasons for this difference may include the generally higher burden of VRE contamination and evidence that room contamination may be a major factor in VRE transmission," wrote Rupak Datta, of the University of California Irvine School of Medicine, and colleagues, in a university news release.

The study appears in the March 28 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about MRSA infections.

Posted: March 2011


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