Posts tagged: staphylococcus aureus

What’s Up Doc: Why are only half of you complying with hospital hand hygiene rules?

“The critical thing that all of us as healthcare providers can do is clean our hands between patient contact: and that is the number one, two, and three action to keep our patient safe,” said Dr. John Embil, Director of Infection Prevention and Control at Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre, in an interview (beginning at the 12:54 mark) at a recent conference on infection control at the HSC.

Patient safety is a live issue because hospital-associated infections (HAIs) are the most common serious complication of hospitalization in Canada, affecting 10% of all patients in acute-care hospitals and are the fourth leading cause of death. And crucially, the contaminated hands of healthcare workers are the most common vehicles of transmission in most settings. In other words, HAIs are preventable.

The solution is literally at our fingertips: just wash your hands. As simple as that seems, the data is telling us that not only is that not happening, it’s also telling us that doctors, of all people – the leaders and role models in the hospital environment – are the biggest offenders.

The hospitals themselves are reporting low hand washing compliance rates of about 65% for nurses and less than 50% for doctors. For example, the Vancouver Island Health Authority reported physician compliance rates as low as 18%.  Yet some people say even those numbers are too high because they are gathered at a time when staff are told they are being monitored. Thus, they argue, the true rate is anywhere between 10 and 30%, with anecdotal evidence suggesting – stunningly – that doctors never wash their hands, outside of surgery.

Physician non-compliance so concerns the medical community that it will be the focus of an upcoming Canadian study that was announced this past February: i.e. why aren’t physicians washing their hands and what can be done about it? In a literature review conduct by the researches in advance of their own investigations they have identified several reasons specific to doctors: namely, physicians reported not ‘remembering to perform hand hygiene;’ ‘high workload or feeling too rushed;’ educational gaps in infection control training among physicians; a perception among physicians that their compliance is much better than it actually is; the development of a more cavalier attitude towards infection control as clinical experience increases, with an associated drop in compliance rates; and the lack of positive role models among physicians who are part of a healthcare team.

Healthcare worker hand hygiene as defined by Dr. Embil above is a hospital Required Organizational Practice, what Accreditation Canada considers an evidence-based best practice that mitigates risk and contributes to improving the quality and safety of health services.

So what’s up doc? If you aren’t getting something  as simple as the hand washing thing right, should patients and their families be asking what else you might not be getting right?

How Much Is Your MRSA Death Worth?

Traditionally, disease has been presented as an army of creepily crawly microbes, lurking on every surface and wafting through the air, waiting to jump up onto our skin or sneak into our nostrils to infect us.

But in an eternally ironic twist of circumstances, the very thing that we use to fight off the bacterial invader might actually be our most fickle foe. According to the medical journel Lancet, antibiotic resistance is now “a global health concern.”

With friends like that, who needs enemies?

The increased exposure to all sorts of antibiotics in our everyday lives has made it so that bacteria that used to be wiped out by a dose of antibiotics have developed resistant strains.

One of the most common – and most serious – of these is Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), the resistant strain of the staph bacteria most commonly found in health-care settings. Read more »

Surgical Site Infections In Major Surgeries Can be Reduced

There are a number of studies that have demonstrated conclusively that eliminating a large percentage of the bacteria in the nose of a patient just prior to a major surgery can reduce the number of surgical site infections (SSIs).   The main culprit seems to be Staphylococcus aureus which thrives in the warm, moist undisturbed environment in the nose. Whether it is the highly antibiotic resistant form of S. aureus, MRSA (a known superbug) or the antibiotic susceptible version MSSA, these species of bacteria are responsible for the majority of surgical site infections.

While MSSA is responsible for a greater number of SSIs, MRSA is responsible for the deadly and very costly infections. Some MRSA infections can cost up to $100,000. On average however, SSIs cost anywhere between $11,000 – $35,000, add on average an extra 8 hospital days, and can result in 5 times higher readmission rates. Whichever way one looks at it, SSIs are a huge burden on the medical systems around the world. Some estimates put this cost as much as $10 billion annually in the US alone.

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Over 2,500 patients treated at VGH using MRSAid™

Our MRSAid™ Photodisinfection procedure has been well received at VGH and represents a promising approach to improve patient safety in other healthcare facility settings… Photodisinfection (is) ideal for hospital settings as it eliminates the need for patient compliance as it can be administered just prior to surgery- Carolyn Cross, Chairman and CEO of Ondine.

Less than a year ago, Vancouver General Hospital implemented the MRSAid™ Photodisinfection System as part of a year-long infection control Quality Improvement Project. Since then, we are very pleased to announce that we have treated over 2,500 patients, making this one of the largest PDT studies in the world. The project is being undertaken with the objective of reducing the incidence of surgical site infections in selected surgical populations.

Many people do not know that the nose is the primary site for bacteria colonization. The average person touches their nose more than 100 times a day, and if they touch their nose and then touch their surgical site, they are at risk of giving themselves an infection that was completely preventable. Many studies have demonstrated a significant reduction in surgical site infections after nasal decolonization of both Staph and MRSA. It is therefore critical to continue the development of non-antibiotic treatments that eliminate potentially deadly bacteria from the nose.

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Tattoos Are A Source of MRSA Infection Too

The allure of getting all inked up is ever present as permanent tats are flaunted on the arms of bikers and sailors to that of yogi masters and sorority girls. However, the idea of a painful, oozing, serious, and even sometimes fatal skin infection is not. It is possible to sustain a MRSA infection after getting a tattoo. Even though it is rare, infection is possible when there is a break in the actual skin –Streptococcus and Staphylococcus are the two types of bacteria that can cause skin infections.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease and Control (CDC), there have been 44 cases reported thus far that show a correlation between MRSA infections and tattoos. This data was taken from 2004 and 2005, and it is likely there are even more cases that have gone unreported. The cases that were examined showed that the tattoos had been done by 13 different tatoo artists across the U.S that lacked standard sterilization technique. Just about every single person who sustained a MRSA infection was healthy and did not possess any risk factors that would make them attractive candidates for MRSA infection.

Just about anyone who gets a tattoo is at risk for contracting an infection, this is even more so when dealing with dangerous superbugs such as MRSA. MRSA is able to colonize the body of a carrier while showing no signs of poor health. In many cases, the carrier may not be aware that they have spread the bacteria through skin to skin contact, especially when it involves the surface of skin being broken. Read more »

Somebody else’s problem: Staff perceptions of MRSA

It has become increasingly clear that MRSA is a significant health challenge for the present and the future. Not only does it kill more people each year than AIDS in the US, but it is also a significant source of unnecessary patient pain and suffering. In Britain, the National Health Service has recorded a spike in contamination and infection rates, going from 2% in 1990, to 43% in 2002.

One of places currently undergoing major transitions in order to adapt to the growing problem of MRSA is the hospital environment. Here, the key element is the staff responsible for day-to-day operations concerning MRSA, namely, the health personnel. Previous studies done in this area have tended to ascribe the high incidence of MRSA infection in hospitals to a lack of staff knowledge on the subject. However, this theory has proved insufficient.

In a 2011 study, Elizabeth Morrow, Peter Griffiths, G. Gopal Rao, and Debbie Flaxman examined the relationship between infection control and the attitudes of hospital staff. More specifically, attitudes that tended to attribute the causes of MRSA to forces outside the hospital (such as senior care centers, communities, etc) or to incontrollable conditions within the hospital itself. Read more »

A Trip to the Hospital Turns into a Lesson in MRSA

Walking into the hospital is always daunting because it’s confusing and not a place people visit under normal circumstances.  So when I went to St. Paul’s last week after my grandpa had open heart surgery I tried to be prepared.  I looked up maps so I wouldn’t get lost meeting my sister in the hospital and set off with my “Get Well Soon” balloon in tow.  The one thing I wasn’t prepared for was the ensuing reality check.

As we began our trek to the cardiac unit, my sister insisted we stop at every hand washing station.  No, she doesn’t have obsessive compulsive disorder; she works in a hospital so she knows the importance of maintaining proper hygiene.

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Over 100 Million Doses Of Antibiotics Are Administered Every Year

More than 80 years ago, Alexander Fleming, a bacteriologist, theorized that antibacterial would be found in his own nasal mucus.  During his experiment, a spore of a variant called Penicillium notatum accidentally contaminated his culture plate of Staphylococcus bacteria. This mold released a substance that inhibited the growth of the bacteria, leading to the breakthrough discovery of penicillin which triggered the beginning of a worldwide medical revolution.

Antibiotics, such as penicillin, have greatly reduced illness and death from infections. Today, 130 million doses of antibiotics are administered every year, and up to half of these have been deemed as unnecessary.  One of the main reasons for this occurs when antibiotics are prescribed for viral rather than bacterial infections. As a result, bacterium such as MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) have “learned” to develop resistance against common antibiotics and have begun to cause severe infections that are expensive to

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MRSA In The News – Superbug Now Found In Grocery Meat

In our previous posts about MRSA we have discussed the different ways this type of bacteria can be transmitted specifically through contact with an infected or colonized person. We have spent a lot of time talking about the high risks of getting infected in a hospital setting, but what about the risk of transmission from eating contaminated food?

In a recent alarming study, researchers have found MRSA bacteria in raw turkey, chicken and beef. This was first noticed in Detroit grocery stores. Experts say that they have always known that raw meat does in fact carry around bacteria and bugs like E. Coli. The recent findings of MRSA in raw meat should only reinforce the message that you need to wash your hands when handling meat and cook it thoroughly before eating.[1]

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“Ground Zero” for MRSA Colonization – The Nose

On this blog, we have spoken many times about the dangers of MRSA. It is now time to explore how MRSA can be detected, and what areas of the body are most often colonized.

MRSA is a versatile bacterium that lives on the skin surface. Up to 30%-40% of people have been shown to carry Staphylococcus aureus, which in its resistant forms, is commonly known as MRSA. In addition, those who are excluded from the previously stated statistic, known as non-carriers, are not necessarily free from all bacteria. Instead, their skin may be better suited for other types of bacteria.

There are big differences in colonization characteristics where MRSA is concerned.   A Read more »

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