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Arch Intern Med. 2011 Mar 28;171(6):491-4. doi: 10.1001/archinternmed.2011.64.

Environmental cleaning intervention and risk of acquiring multidrug-resistant organisms from prior room occupants.

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  • 1Division of Infectious Diseases and Health Policy Research Institute, University of California Irvine School of Medicine, 100 Theory, Ste 110, Irvine, CA 92697, USA.



Admission to intensive care unit rooms previously occupied by carriers of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) or vancomycin-resistant enteroccoci (VRE) had been found to confer a 40% increased risk of acquisition, presumably through environmental contamination. Subsequently, a cleaning intervention was shown to reduce MRSA and VRE room contamination. We now evaluate the effect of this intervention on the risk of acquiring MRSA and VRE from prior room occupants.


We conducted a retrospective cohort study of patients admitted to 10 intensive care units at a 750-bed academic medical center during the enhanced cleaning intervention (from September 1, 2006, through April 30, 2008; n = 9449) vs baseline (from September 1, 2003, through April 30, 2005; n = 8203) periods. The intervention consisted of targeted feedback using a black-light marker, cleaning cloths saturated with disinfectant via bucket immersion, and increased education regarding the importance of repeated bucket immersion during cleaning. Intensive care units included medical, cardiac, burn/trauma, general surgery, cardiac surgery, thoracic surgery, and neurosurgery units. We calculated the number of room stays involving the potential for MRSA and VRE acquisition and then assessed the frequency at which eligible patients were exposed to rooms in which the prior occupants had MRSA-positive or VRE-positive status.


Acquisition of MRSA and VRE was lowered from 3.0% to 1.5% for MRSA and from 3.0% to 2.2% for VRE (P < .001 for both). Patients in rooms previously occupied by MRSA carriers had an increased risk of acquisition during the baseline (3.9% vs 2.9%, P = .03) but not the intervention (1.5% vs 1.5%, P = .79) period. In contrast, patients in rooms previously occupied by VRE carriers had an increased risk of acquisition during the baseline (4.5% vs 2.8%, P = .001) and intervention (3.5% vs 2.0%, P < .001) periods.


Enhanced intensive care unit cleaning using the intervention methods may reduce MRSA and VRE transmission. It may also eliminate the risk of MRSA acquisition due to an MRSA-positive prior room occupant.

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