"Active Surveillance," Barrier Precautions Not as Effective in Reducing MRSA, VRE

Mayo Clinic researchers say a commonly used strategy to reduce the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in hospital intensive care units may not have a significant effect, according to a hospital news release.

The strategy includes "active surveillance" of patients admitted to ICUs for MRSA or VRE carriage, a procedure that is required by law in some states. It also involves the use of barrier precautions, such as gloves and gowns, by healthcare providers during the care of patients carrying these bacteria. Mayo Clinic researchers conducted a study of the strategy's effect in 18 ICUs at major academic medical centers.

Active surveillance identified a large group of patients not previously known to be colonized with MRSA or VRE. Patients who were colonized or infected with MRSA or VRE were assigned to care either using contact precautions or universal gloving for 92 percent of the days they spent in the ICU. Despite this, there was no difference in the frequency of new colonization or infection events with MRSA or VRE.

The researchers conclude that merely conducting active surveillance and expanding the use of barrier precautions are not likely to be broadly effective. They suggest better adherence to isolation precautions, complemented by interventions that reduce colonization on body sites and improved environmental cleaning.

Read the news release about active surveillance and barrier precautions.

Read other coverage about hospital quality:

- U.K.'s Manchester Hospital Launches "YMCA" Parody Hand Hygiene Video

- ASHE, APIC Release Joint Statement Following Recent Johns Hopkins Faucet Study

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