Soap, Swabs Slash Infection Rates by 44%

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , October 19, 2012

A study conducted at 43 HCA-affiliated community hospitals saw bloodstream infections, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), drop by 44% when all ICU patients were subjected to daily "universal decolonization" using antimicrobial soap and nasal swabs.

"The magnitude of this trial is such that it will create a standard of care for most ICUs in the U.S.," study coauthor Ed Septimus, MD, told HealthLeaders Media. "Obviously once this study results are well known we do expect a rapid adoption across most hospitals in the United States."

The study, Randomized Evaluation of Decolonization Versus Universal Clearance to Eliminate MRSA, was conducted with investigators from Harvard and other academic institutions, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nearly 75,000 patients and more than 280,000 patient days in 74 adult ICUs in 16 states were involved. Investigators compared three infection control approaches in ICUs:

  • Screen all patients and isolate MRSA carriers
  • Targeted decolonization after screening
  • Universal decolonization
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