Hospitals Show Steep Decline In Drug-Resistant Infections
In the wake of increasing fears about the incidence of drug-resistant infections, a new study shows tighter measures to improve safety for some of hospitals’ intensive care patients may be working. NY1’s Health reporter Kafi Drexel filed the following report.
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With growing fears about the percentage of drug resistant infections both inside and outside of hospitals, a new study from the Centers for Disease Control shows what looks like a dramatic improvement in at least one critical area.
In hospitals around the country, CDC researchers found rates of drug-resistant staph infections, or MRSA, dropped nearly 50 percent over a ten-year period, from 1997 to 2007 in intensive care unit patients treated with a central line catheter.
The study does not fully examine reasons behind the numbers, but doctors say it demonstrates more strenuous prevention methods may be making the difference.
“I believe the results are indicative of the fact that we've taken a different approach to trying to prevent central line infections over the last five to 10 years,” says Dr. Brian Currie of Montefiore Medical Center. “Instead of coming at it from one direction, [like only] better compliance with hand washing, or a different type of catheter, we've organized ourselves into multidisciplinary teams.”
Patients receiving central lines have been of particular concern to hospitals because catheters are inserted into major blood vessels for treatment and monitoring. Risk of infection is high because the device goes through the patient's skin into sterile body space.
At hospitals like Bronx’s Montefiore Medical Center, infection rates are down 63 percent - even lower than the CDC's findings. Montefiore’s doctors attribute that to a rigid checklist procedure they follow to keep their environment clean.
“It starts with, in general, very good hand hygiene and care as dictated by best practices from the CDC,” says Montefiore’s Dr. Manoj Karwa. “In addition, [we’re] running a multidisciplinary team implementing, as Dr. Currie said, use of the best type of equipment, the best type of methodology, and ensuring that the best type of methodology in terms of insertion of these invasive devices is actually being followed.”
Doctors say the practices can be applied to help control infections overall, not just MRSA.
“We've been hearing lots of stories about how dangerous hospitals are. Hospitals are doing a lot to reduce these kinds of infections, and I think there is some evidence for that here,” says Dr. Michael Phillips of the NYU Langone Medical Center.
It can provide some comfort to patients who fear winding up in the ICU is in itself a risk.