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VA's MRSA Reduction Program Featured in The New York Times

February 5, 2015

Hospital-associated infection (HAI) is a major threat to patient safety. The most significant cause of HAI is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which accounts for an estimated 94,000 invasive infections and 19,000 deaths annually in the US. In 2007, VA implemented a comprehensive MRSA prevention plan that was recently featured in an article in The New York Times. The Times feature also included commentary from VA HSR&D investigator Eli Perencevich, M.D., M.S., Director of the HSR&D Center for Comprehensive Access & Delivery Research and Evaluation (CADRE) in Iowa City.

The Times article included recent figures released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicating that U.S. hospitals are making modest progress in bringing down rates of HAIs, but that in contrast, VA's MRSA "bundle approach" (only screening for MRSA) has had greater impact over a shorter period of time. From the program's inception in 2007, to the end of 2012, VA's rates of hospital-acquired MRSA infections fell by 69 percent. In addition, the overall number of HAIs in VA long-term care facilities dropped by 36 percent between July 2009 and 2012. However, the CDC data indicate that for non-VA hospitals, hospital-acquired MRSA infections have dropped by 30.8 percent.

Although the MRSA bundle is directed solely at that pathogen, it offers a wider benefit because it includes measures that can be applied to all HAIs. In the article, Dr. Perencevich noted that, "Because of that, they've been able to detect and respond to other pathogens when they come up. There's a culture of swabbing, responding, testing, frequent calls. That can be used for other infections." VA is currently expanding the screening program to include other HAIs.

To read the full article, visit The New York Times website. To learn more about HAI research in VA, read this feature.