MRSA Decreases in Intensive Care Units
Study Shows MRSA Infection Is Down Among Patients Who Have Central-Line Catheters
Feb. 17, 2009 -- The incidence of potentially dangerous MRSA bloodstream
infections associated with intensive care units in the U.S. has been
decreasing, a new study shows.
That's contrary to a widespread perception that MRSA infections associated
with central-line catheters in intensive care units (ICUs) have been
increasing. It is common for the critically ill patients to have central-line
catheters placed into large blood vessels in order to administer medications
and fluids, draw blood for testing, or help monitor them.
The study is published in the Feb. 18 edition of The Journal of the
American Medical Association.
MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is a staph
bacterium that that is resistant to certain antibiotics, making the infection
difficult to treat and potentially life threatening.
But CDC researchers say that rather than increasing, the incidence of ICU
MRSA bloodstream infections associated with central-line catheters decreased
about 50% from 1997 to 2007.
"The emergence of MRSA in health care settings has drawn the attention
of clinicians, public health agencies and the public and has prompted calls for
mandatory screening or reporting" to reduce infections, the researchers
Despite such worries, there has been a dearth of data about the scale of the
problem, according to researcher Deron Burton, MD, JD, MPH, and CDC
Intensive care units reported 33,587 central-line-associated bloodstream
infections between 1997 and 2007, the researchers say. Of those, 2,498 (7.4%)
were MRSA infections.
Although the overall percentage of central bloodstream staph infections due
to MRSA increased 25.8% in the decade analyzed, the researchers say the overall
incidence rate declined 49.6%.
The decreases, they say, may be attributable to efforts by health care
providers to improve adherence to CDC guidelines aimed at fighting MRSA.
The findings stand "in sharp contrast" to perceptions based on
insufficient information about the MRSA problem, the researchers say in a news
release. The new analysis, they contend, suggests that efforts to prevent MRSA
infections are succeeding, though "further study is needed" in other
Michael William Climo, MD, of the Hunter Holmes McGuire Veterans Affairs
Medical Center in Richmond, Va., says in an accompanying editorial that the new
report provides key lessons for patient safety.
He says it's clear that many ICUs have taken steps to abide by CDC
guidelines and have made "substantial progress" in reducing
hospital-acquired MRSA infections. Still, he adds, better outcomes are within