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August 11th, 2010
06:32 PM ET

U.S. hospital-acquired MRSA infections drop

The United States made dramatic progress in fighting aggressive infections acquired in health care settings  from 2005 through 2008, a new study sh0ws. While various types of infections are common in health care settings, the study by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers focused on studying health care associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus areas (HA-MRSA) infections.

HA-MRSA infections are a health care challenge because they are common in hospitals, nursing homes, dialysis centers and other health care environments, and the aggressive infections are resistant to many of the strong antibiotics that typically kill infections. CDC data show the incidence of MRSA infections grew rapidly from2 percent of staph infections in 1974 to 63 percent of staph infections in 2004. The public health community has been active in developing campaigns to educate and fight the spread of the often-deadly infections.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, examined changes in HA-MRSA from 2005 through 2008, using data from nine U.S. metropolitan areas participating in the CDC’s Emerging Infections Program/Active Bacterial Core surveillance system. From 2005 through 2008, hospital-acquired infections decreased about 28 percent and medical community acquired infections dropped about 17 percent during the same period.

While the reasons for the decrease in infections is not known, the researchers say that one explanation for the larger decrease in hospital settings is probably due to education programs that have been widely implemented in many hospitals, as well as public awareness campaigns by the CDC and the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services.


soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. Brenda Case

    I'm can honestly say , that I don't trust these figures. I live in Tn. Most people I talk to have no clue what MRSA is. Mention the word staph and you here story after story how someone suffered from that infection in the local hospital or tell you about a family member just having surgery and ending up with staph.. People hesitate going because they know how dirty this hospital is, but do not do anything about it. Why, because they don't know they can report it to their health insurance companies, or that they can call the health dept and report it on their own. You can't rely on a hospital to do that. I check my local Health dept. reports every 2 weeks for updates, very few cases of invassive mrsa are reported , much less the 4 cases of Acinetobactor they had in 08 (never got reported). Hospitals etc. are watching their bottom lines because of the Medicare/Medicaid rules gone into affect in 10/08. Not enough Insurance companies are on board with making hospitals eat the cost of treating these infections when they caused them. They simply pay the bill and go on. Give credit to some, they look for red flags, certain billing codes and so on...Let me ask you this and I have personal experience, How would medicare/medicaid/insurance know if someone had an HAI if the billing codes were not present? My mother died a horrible death 2 years ago. HAI's, where do I begin, invassive MRSA,Cdiff, Invassive Yeast (from leaving a catheter in 11 weeks, Achromobacter bacteria from contaminated heparin which caused a seizure/stroke that blew out the back half of her brain, Positive allergic reaction to heparin, a decubitus sore big enough for 1 1/2 beer cans on her buttock. Not one time , Not one time was I or the rest of my family told she had any these, we had to pay attention to medicines they gave her (3 of which she was allergic too and they continuied with them anyway), we questioned everything, We forced handwashing from the staff of the hospital who basically blew us off.. I tested positive for mrsa 5 months after my mothers death from a spot on my leg that came up while I was visiting her everyday. I can tell you this, If it had not have been for the night after night research I did, I would not have know what precautions to take at home for myself and my family while under treatment. Patients are woefully undereducated by the hospitals and it's dr's when diagnosed with these HAI's. Antibiotics/creams, here ya go and your out the door. Am i an Empowered patient today, yes I am. After going thru a lengthy hospital bill of my mom's, We never knew she was treated with vancomycin. Her bill never included billing codes for her decubitus sore or mrsa, or the yeast, or the c-diff nor did her death certificate. I don't wish what happened to my mom on anyone. It haunts me to know to this day to know, she's rememberd at the hospital as the one "with the big hole" or that apon entry at the funeral home she had to be isolated. My mother deserved more respect than this.

    August 12, 2010 at 02:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • LGB

      What you described is fraud. Undereporting can/will affect future payment rates to that facility under the new system. I would get a copy of all records, gather the EOBs and call the payer and/or an attorney who specializes in whistleblowing. Good luck to you and kudos for educating yourself.

      August 12, 2010 at 08:11 | Report abuse |
  2. Carie Appleseed

    No Protection Against Active Tuberculosis

    A profit driven health care industry can place more emphasis on making money rather than protecting against infectious diseases. Tuberculosis is a contagious disease and is often deadly. When people with active TB cough, sneeze, speak, sing or spit, they expel infectious aerosol droplets. 40,000 droplets are released in a sneeze. Just one single bacterium can cause a new infection. TB bacteria can live in your body without making you sick. One in ten latent infections will eventually progress to an active disease. TB kills more than half of its victims if left untreated.

    Kindred Hospital in Arlington, Texas did not follow CDC guidelines. NO self-closing device was on the TB patient's door. An anteroom was not available since the patient's bathroom door was a few feet from the main hallway. Employees and visitors in the "isolation room" wore surgical masks which are not effective in preventing inhalation of droplet nuclei. As a nurse, I received a fit testing, but was not given a respirator with a proper air filter. It's estimated that the US has 25,000 new cases of TB each year. If you think you were exposed to TB disease, you should call your doctor and local health department about getting a TB skin test. Although I just committed career suicide, I can sleep well at night.

    August 12, 2010 at 03:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Melone

      Write down every detail, and tell OSHA.

      August 12, 2010 at 08:56 | Report abuse |
    • LGB

      I agree with Melone. Call Joint Commission also. You are protecting future at-risk victims (patients, visitors, staff) of the same situation.

      August 12, 2010 at 09:07 | Report abuse |
    • Judy

      Hi Carie My Father passed away due to the neglect during his 3 month stay at Kindred. I have an Attorney looking at our case. Pretty sure we have a good lawsuit against Kindred. Would you be interested in talking to me? I hate to think of the patients still there and the poor people that will see there last days of life there. My goal is to keep this from happening to anyone else.

      May 22, 2011 at 01:13 | Report abuse |
  3. In the field

    The numbers look less because of active surveillance, patients are checked for MRSA at the door on admission. This equates to fewer "HAI" cases because we can now "blame" the community for what we find. There's your answer. We have MORE CA MRSA than ever. Because we're looking for it.

    August 12, 2010 at 07:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • LGB

      Absolutely 100% true. The cost of the overwhelming, life-support needing infection is covered if the patient had MRSA in their nares at admission, even if that is NOT the cause of their actual knee infection (or wherever). Again, comes down to $$ and not people compelled to good practices just because it is their job.

      August 12, 2010 at 08:03 | Report abuse |
  4. LGB

    The MRSA infections are dropping and just by sheer coincidience, Medicare is not paying for consequences of hospital acquired infections anymore. Sounds like finances was the effective motivator for something that shoulda-woulda-coulda been done all along.

    August 12, 2010 at 08:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Common Misconception

      While sadly, you are partially correct, strong public education campaigns for hospitals have also contributed, especially in a climate of pandemic fear. For many practitioners, they simply got lazy and didn’t switch gloves between patients or even wear gloves. Shaming them into doing so has helped.

      August 12, 2010 at 14:40 | Report abuse |
  5. MGP

    The main reason for the drop is the hospitals have a financial incentive for to drop. CMS and therefore private insurance will not pay for the preventable hospital acquired infections any longer. Hospitals had no reason to curb them prior to now, as the increased cost and lengths of stay boosted their profits. Also statistical manipulation with blaming community acquired MRSA.... Yes I work in the industry

    August 12, 2010 at 12:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mohamed

      Amoxicillin is an antibiotic. It would treat the ear iinectnofs and the sinus infection at the same time. If your son got this infection after he stopped the antibiotic, then I would call the doctor again.If they decide not to give you any more medicine. I would get a humidifier and some baby Tylenol. It does stink that we can not buy the baby cold products anymore. I used them with my daughter and my son until they were pulled off the market. I would understand if they were recalled due to an issue with the product, but to recall something because some people might not be bright enough to properly read the directions please. I sort of wish I had stocked up on them.However on the flip side, people survived for years before these products were invented and our kids will adapt and learn to fight off these illnesses. I just hate to see them so uncomfortable.

      April 8, 2012 at 02:45 | Report abuse |
  6. Inkt1

    For some reason I have been blocked from posting comments on parts of CNN site. This is only a test to see if I've been blocked here too. I honestly don't know why either–I have not violated any of the rules????

    August 12, 2010 at 13:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Inkt1

      My apologies for posting something that has absolutely nothing to do with the topic at hand.

      August 12, 2010 at 13:05 | Report abuse |
    • Inkt1

      Totally on subject–I am 32. When I was 8 days old I was diagnosed with staph. Docs believe it is what killed the vascular system in my hip joints. As a result I had each hip reconstructed at 14 & 15 and then replaced at 19 & 20. Thank you, dirty hospital!!!

      August 12, 2010 at 13:07 | Report abuse |
    • Common Misconception

      I think your problem is the health section uses a different comment system than the rest of the site.

      August 12, 2010 at 14:30 | Report abuse |
    • DeAguaDulce

      You said or did something the mediator didn't like. I posted the results of a study about homosexual behavior (Fethers K et al. S e xually transmitted infections and risk behaviours in women who have s e x with women. S e xually Transmitted Infections 2000; 76: 345-9.) and was immdeiately banned from the site. CNN only wants to hear what you say if you agree with them.

      August 16, 2010 at 02:18 | Report abuse |
    • WinchLock

      Yeah, the mods are being a bit overzealous, I got blocked for god knows what reason. But back on topic, luckily I haven't had any staph infections from the hospital, however my dad tends to get them from random things in nature, like a snake bite (non-poisonous rat snake)and various leg/arm scrapes (from bumping or hitting things).

      August 18, 2010 at 09:08 | Report abuse |
    • KR

      I got blocked too for whatever reason..and I dont even curse. CNN only wants to hear what they want to hear

      July 26, 2011 at 08:19 | Report abuse |
  7. Valerie

    On a Friday afternoon at work I had a tiny bugbite on my right shin that itched, so I scratched it. It got progressively worse over the weekend and by Tuesday my leg hurt so bad that I couldn't walk on it, so I finally broke down and went to the hospital. At the time I was living in an apartment infested with brown recluse spiders, so I thought maybe one had finally bitten me, but no, it was MRSA (tests confirmed much later). They administered something to numb the site via needles (that really hurt) and then cut it open to drain it, and then put a piece of gauze half in and half out of the wound to continue the drainage (I cannot remember what that's called). After that, I was on antibiotics and painkillers, which did work. It took about 3 months for the wound to close completely and there is still a notch in my leg from where it was. It actually ate through the shin bone. I didn't discover it was MRSA until my husband got it and they tested in order to find antibiotics he could take, since there are so many he is allergic to. My guess is that there was some under my fingernails, but it took a while to disinfect everything. We used a lot of bleach and Hibiclenz on almost everything in the house. This story isn't so much about hospital aquired infection as it is about what a terrible thing MRSA is. I had heard of it but never really knew until I had it.

    August 12, 2010 at 13:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Wendy Langley

    The indicator here that prevention is effective in stopping the spread of MRSA is a hopeful reminder that the community can also fend off infection by following a first aid prevention regimen, including not continuing to bring it into the hospital environment. Not until MRSA cases are tracked in hospitals across the U.S. and the prevention message is more widely known will we have greater confidence that fewer lives will be lost to this deadly infectious disease.
    Wendy Langley, Regulatory Affairs Director
    Tec Laboratories, Inc.

    August 12, 2010 at 14:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Aghiyas

      Okay, I had sinus too. What i want you to do is buy the new Oral B brush and get a sensodyn paste! You might be drwneoing what this has to do with mucas in your nose. Well, brush thrice a day and you will see mucas melt slowly although it contains viruses that only anti-biotics can get rid off. Brushing you teeth regularly will definatly help long term. Keep cleaning you nose with a warm wet towal too so it brings you some relief. Then later, start meditation which will surely help. I am sorry to know you have sinus it really sux but you will be fine soon. God bless you!

      April 8, 2012 at 13:32 | Report abuse |
  9. bxcatlady

    CA-MRSA is highly on the rise (my son fought repeated infections between his toes for over 10 months straight), in direct contrast with HA-MRSA reports. When I took my son to the ER for his initial infection, they called it cellulitis – a generic term for an inflamed skin infection. Cellulitis can be caused by any number of bacteria – including MRSA.

    It is imperative to note that CA-MRSA and HA-MRSA are essentially the same; CA denotes "community acquired" and HA denotes "hospital acquired". Meaning, that someone who has acquired the infection in the hospital setting can then transmit it to an unwitting visitor (or family member if not dx'd and treated before release), who in turn transmits it to others outside the hospital setting.

    Thankfully, my son has now been clear for just over 12 months. However, just because there is no active infection does not mean that a person is not a carrier of MRSA. The bacteria colonize the host (usually in the nostrils) and are very opportunistic. My son showers twice a day, and each time we pour about 1/2 cup of bleach and the "top" of the tub and let it run down – essentially a bleach-bath for his feet. After each shower, we blow dry his feet (yes, I know how funny this sounds, but it is not funny at all) so that no moisture gets trapped between his toes. After the morning shower, we then spray between his toes with a spray powder (usually tinactin spray powder) to help with sweat and any chance of getting athlete's foot (which will allow bacteria to take hold). He changes his socks 3 to 4 times a day to prevent sweat/bacterial buildup between his toes.

    I honestly believe that it is this cycle of prevention/treatment that has eradicated the active infections.

    And just as a point of info, bacitracin and the like will do absolutely NOTHING for a MRSA infection. It will make it look like it may be healing, but the infection will come back stronger than before. Mupiricin is the best topical antibiotic treatment for a skin infection, and will probably be supplemented with an oral antibiotic to which the particular strain of MRSA is susceptible.

    August 12, 2010 at 14:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Valerie

      Oral Bacitracin worked for me, I haven't shown any signs of reinfection in over a year. Hibiclenz is also pretty good, around $6.00 at a pharmacy or even Walmart, K-Mart, Target stores.

      August 12, 2010 at 15:01 | Report abuse |
    • Ajay

      "I can assure you that cuittng down on meat consumption is one of the best ways to free up arable land and curb carbon production."After acknowledging that psycho (and a growing percentage of the populice) doesn't buy global warming, you then make this point. No score.For those of us who like a bit of meat (steady), we are often prepared to buy up to $25 kilo to the farmer (and others in the distribution channel) for the use of his land,

      April 14, 2012 at 13:32 | Report abuse |
  10. bxcatlady

    To add to my previous post, the most likely places (outside the hospital setting) for acquiring MRSA are generally sports-related – gyms, locker rooms and contact-sports settings. In my son's case, I believe it was from his karate school, where the children and adults all went barefoot (oddly enough, the Master wore training shoes most of the time). After the infections started, I insisted on my son wearing Pine-Trees – always!

    Under no circumstances should athletic equipment (i.e., football helmets, shoes, socks, hand gear, etc.) ever be shared. Football helmets and MMA headgear/handgear is notorious for harboring bacteria. A neighbor's nephew had acquired a persistent MRSA infection from sharing his football helmet with a fellow player during one game.

    "Contact skin-to-skin can bring infection; another's sweat is always a threat" – words to now live by.

    August 12, 2010 at 15:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. bxcatlady

    I'm glad to hear that someone had the luck of getting rid of this so easily. From the stories I've heard and read, I can tell you that you are very lucky and that is is not the norm.

    The one thing I left out is that he showers and washes only with Dial antibacterial body wash (not the bar soap). Hibiclens is wonderful, but thankfully the Dial has done the trick.

    We were seen by the chair of the pediatric infectious disease department of a major NYC medical center after the third recurrence of the MRSA – bacitracin and neosporin having only made the infections stronger, my son's pediatrician (thankfully very well-versed on MRSA) started the mupiricin and I actually initiated all the other treatments before seeing the ID specialist. When she heard the steps we were taking she was thrilled to pieces – saying that I was quite literally doing everything possible to treat and stave off the infection. Given where the infections took hold, and the fact that it jumped from toe to toe and then foot to foot, it was unimaginably hard to treat. We believe it all started with bare feet at karate...maybe he was getting a slight case of athlete's foot or maybe had a small break in the skin we did not notice. That's all the bacteria need to get a foothold (no pun intended).

    There are also different strains of MRSA; Methicillin-Resistant Staph Aureus is pretty much a catchall for resistant staph bugs. All are resistant to the cillins, but have varying degrees of resistance or susceptibility to other antibiotics.

    I still keep up the routine (less the regular use of mupiricin) even though we've seen no signs of reinfection, simply because no active infection does not mean the bacteria are no longer living on the body. However, when he gets any shot or immunization (he's only 9) or gets any kind of open wound – even a small bite or scratch – we clean with antibacterial right away and treat with mupiricin. He recently was bitten by what we believe was either an ant or a yellow-jacket on the sole of his foot. Swelled up like mad, right across the arch, even turned black and blue. We didn't see any outright signs of infection but took all the precautions. Doc had us treat for 5 days with mupiricin, no swimming and no open shoes (closed w/socks), and he healed beautifully.

    Again, it was good to hear for a change that someone beat the bug so easily.

    August 12, 2010 at 15:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Jeff Carmean

    I sincerely hope the incidents of HA-MRSA are coming down. My mother had back surgery at a large hospital in Saginaw (MI) in early 2007. One of the top neurosurgeons in the state did her surgery, and she was expected to be like a new woman once she recovered from the surgery. However, she contracted HA-MRSA and spent the next three months fighting for her life! Her age (79) and compromised health (back surgery) made it much more difficult to survive the infection. In the end, she actually beat the HA-MRSA infection but died from it's complications. Fighting for her life for three months just physically and mentally wore her out! She was a very caring, loving, and compassionate soul–I really miss her (Frances Carmean).

    August 12, 2010 at 17:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • cailaing

      even though only 1 was inecetfd I need to put it in both) and INSTANTLY my ear made a little crackling sound and it opened up, headache was gone, I could hear! I felt fine the next day! I repeated the treatment the next day anyway though. I would say, stay away from those horrible pills and shots. Grandma knows best. She also said you could make a tea with the leaves to help you sleep Lots of places actually have this plant growing everywhere. I posted a link of the picture for you. Just use the leaves!

      April 8, 2012 at 21:22 | Report abuse |
    • Ghing

      My daughter has been dnseioagd with MRSA. She got a bad bruise on her calf, and it turned into a large infected wound. She has been on bactrim and clindamycin, but last night the infection flared up again. She is taking probiotics, but last night she developed a terrible case of acid reflux. Would soaking the wound in epsom salt help?

      April 14, 2012 at 13:45 | Report abuse |
  13. mrsa infection

    The symptoms of an MRSA infection are more commonly associated with skin infections such as impetigo and cellulitis
    mrsa infection

    October 13, 2010 at 00:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Rika

    "I can assure you that utictng down on meat consumption is one of the best ways to free up arable land and curb carbon production."Free up arable land for what, exactly?It'd take one hell of an acreage to produce as much protein in vegetable form as beef animals produce. And greenies conveniently overlook the harvesting and packaging and distribution costs when making the comparison.(Vast herds of vegetation-munching animals roamed the earth until fairly recently...perhaps they caused the Medieval Warm Period?)Man is a carnivore–as his canine incisors demonstrate and meat is the fastest, most convenient way to refuel. :-)

    April 8, 2012 at 16:52 | Report abuse | Reply

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