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N Engl J Med. 2011 Apr 14;364(15):1419-30. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1007474.

Veterans Affairs initiative to prevent methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections.

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Patient Care Services, Veterans Affairs Central Office, and the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, Pittsburgh, USA.



Health care-associated infections with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) have been an increasing concern in Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals.


A "MRSA bundle" was implemented in 2007 in acute care VA hospitals nationwide in an effort to decrease health care-associated infections with MRSA. The bundle consisted of universal nasal surveillance for MRSA, contact precautions for patients colonized or infected with MRSA, hand hygiene, and a change in the institutional culture whereby infection control would become the responsibility of everyone who had contact with patients. Each month, personnel at each facility entered into a central database aggregate data on adherence to surveillance practice, the prevalence of MRSA colonization or infection, and health care-associated transmissions of and infections with MRSA. We assessed the effect of the MRSA bundle on health care-associated MRSA infections.


From October 2007, when the bundle was fully implemented, through June 2010, there were 1,934,598 admissions to or transfers or discharges from intensive care units (ICUs) and non-ICUs (ICUs, 365,139; non-ICUs, 1,569,459) and 8,318,675 patient-days (ICUs, 1,312,840; and non-ICUs, 7,005,835). During this period, the percentage of patients who were screened at admission increased from 82% to 96%, and the percentage who were screened at transfer or discharge increased from 72% to 93%. The mean (±SD) prevalence of MRSA colonization or infection at the time of hospital admission was 13.6±3.7%. The rates of health care-associated MRSA infections in ICUs had not changed in the 2 years before October 2007 (P=0.50 for trend) but declined with implementation of the bundle, from 1.64 infections per 1000 patient-days in October 2007 to 0.62 per 1000 patient-days in June 2010, a decrease of 62% (P<0.001 for trend). During this same period, the rates of health care-associated MRSA infections in non-ICUs fell from 0.47 per 1000 patient-days to 0.26 per 1000 patient-days, a decrease of 45% (P<0.001 for trend).


A program of universal surveillance, contact precautions, hand hygiene, and institutional culture change was associated with a decrease in health care-associated transmissions of and infections with MRSA in a large health care system.

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