As Many As 1.2M Hospital Patients Infected With MRSA Annually
Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus
As many as 1.2 million U.S. hospital patients are infected withmethicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus each year, nearly 10 timesas many as previously estimated, according to a study released onMonday at the annual meeting of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology in San Jose, Calif., the Chicago Tribune reports (Graham, Chicago Tribune,6/25). For the study, APIC sent surveys to its more than 11,000 memberhospitals and nursing homes requesting that members pick one daybetween Oct. 1, 2006, and Nov. 10, 2006, to record all cases of MRSAinfections, both active and colonized. According to APIC officials,1,237 hospitals and nursing homes responded to the survey, or about 21%of U.S. inpatient health care facilities (Stobbe, AP/Houston Chronicle, 6/25).
The report -- written by William Jarvis, former acting director of the hospital infections program at CDC-- found that 34 of 1,000 patients had active MRSA infections, and 12of 1,000 patients were colonized with MRSA, which amounts to an MRSAincidence rate of 46 per 1,000 patients. The study suggests that 1.2million hospital patients are infected with MRSA annually and that423,000 additional patients are colonized with MRSA, compared withprevious CDC estimates that 126,000 were infected annually (Chicago Tribune, 6/25).
Accordingto the survey, the active infection rate is 8.6 times higher than themost recent estimate of the rate of infection by CDC (Russell, San Francisco Chronicle,6/25). CDC in 2005 estimated that the rate of infection at inpatienthospitals was 3.9 of 1,000 patients, with an estimated mortality rateof 4%. However, some researchers believe that based on the new survey,the mortality rate from MRSA infection could be as high as 10%,according to Lance Peterson, director of infectious disease research atEvanston Northwestern Healthcare. If that mortality rate is accurate, as many as 119,000 patients could die of MRSA annually based on the new data (Chicago Tribune, 6/25).
The survey found that 67% of infections occurred in nonsurgical medicalwards, contrary to previous research that indicated most infectionsoccur in intensive-care units. Seventy-seven percent of patients withMRSA were identified within two days of being admitted to the hospital,"making it likely" that they had the infection prior to admission,according to the Tribune.
Infections often result from an earlier stay at a hospital or nursing home, Jarvis said (Chicago Tribune,6/25). Earlier studies that have found lower rates of MRSA infectionswere smaller, focused on specific units of the hospitals and did notcount both active and colonized infections, according to Jarvis(Manning, USA Today, 6/25).
APIC CEO Kathy Warye said, "This study is a real wake-up call to healthcare workers. It presents a much more comprehensive picture of theburden of MRSA." Lisa McGiffert, manager of the Stop Hospital Infections project of Consumers Union,said MRSA infections are "dangerous" and "there is not enough beingdone to protect patients from getting them," adding, "Hospitals aregoing to have to do more. They have to be more aggressive, and it'sjust not happening" (San Francisco Chronicle, 6/25).
JohnJernigan, a medical epidemiologist at CDC and the agency's lead experton MRSA, said he "applauded the study," although he has not examinedits results or methodology. Jernigan added, "Everything we're findingis telling us the same thing: MRSA is an enormous problem in healthcare facilities, more needs to be done to prevent it and hospitals needto make infection control more of a priority" (Chicago Tribune, 6/25).
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