Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) infections are one of the most dangerous infections patients can get when hospitalized. In some cases they resist all available drug treatments and result in patient death. One of the simple ways to help prevent spreading of this disease to new hospital patients is to isolate the infected patients from those who are uninfected. This is routinely done in European hospitals but is not commonly done in the U.S. In 2002, following the practice adopted at many European hospitals, the Pittsburgh Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center introduced a procedure which involves taking a swab from the noses of newly admitted patients and testing this for MRSA. Patients who test positive are immediately isolated from uninfected patients. This procedure makes it much easier to prevent the spread of the infection. At the Pittsburgh VA hospital, following this practice reduced the spread of MRSA infections by 59%. Some hospitals using the same procedure have lowered their MRSA infection rates even further.
This simple, inexpensive procedure can help dramatically reduce the spread of a potentially deadly infection within the hospital. Every U.S. hospital should consider utilizing such a common-sense method.