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i-123d9fd0f0897dfb5be32613c5cfdb5b-mrsa_bacteria.gifHospital cases of methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) have risen 33-fold during the past ten years in Washington state, yet our hospitals fail to identify or track cases in a systemic fashion (Seattle Times).

The Seattle Times began a three-part investigative report today describing the rise in MRSA incidence, the consequences for patients, and the failure on the part of our hospitals to take measures to address the problem.

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According to the Seattle Times, six out of seven people get MRSA infections at some kind of health care facility. The spread could be contained if health care providers knew which patients carried the bacteria. But hospitals claim that the $20 per patient cost to test for MRSA would be too expensive, is unnecessary, and too burdensome.

And,

Some hospitals fear lawsuits. If they screened every patient, results would show who already had the germ upon admission — and who picked it up while in the hospital. Patients could then blame the hospital for their infections.

Yet MRSA infections pose considerable danger to patients. Usually, skin is an effective barrier. The bacteria could live on your skin unnoticed throughout your life without causing any problems, but once it gains entry to the body, through a surgical procedure, or other kind of wound, the infection is difficult to control. Some patients in the Times story describe permanent disabilities resulting from MRSA, many others have died. According to the Times, there were at least 672 deaths from MRSA infections that were attributed to another cause.

[My note: the Times didn’t specify the time period here, it’s not clear if this was over the last ten years or during a shorter period.]

It’s an interesting article.

Reference:
Micheal Berens and Ken Armstrong, How our hospitals unleashed a MRSA epidemic, Seattle Times, 11-16-2008

Comments

  1. #1 yogi-one
    November 17, 2008

    This is huge. I hope the Times stays on it!

  2. #2 Mike Fox
    November 17, 2008

    Why wouldn’t the hospitals just use a test that tends to report negative more often? When they go to court, just say, “Well, this test only catches 90% of MRSA infections, so they might have already had the infection coming in.”

  3. #3 Jeff Goldman
    November 17, 2008

    One area often overlooked in the battle against the transfer of dangerous infectious diseases in medical environments are the ubiquitous keyboards and mice. Standard keyboards and mice can not be disinfected because germs collect around and in seams and under keys. Recently Man & Machine, Inc. released a White Paper titled, “Minimizing Transmission of Infectious Disease in Heath Care Environments by Use of Disinfectable PC Keyboards and Mice.” It can be viewed at: http://www.man-machine.com/whitepaper.htm

  4. #4 Former Administrator
    November 17, 2008

    What is truly scary is the featured hospital in the Seattle Times article, Harborview Medical Center, is a major teaching hospital for the University of Washington School of Medicine. As a former patient (and former administrator at that facility), they regularly medical staff regularly cite the current literature to patients in denying antibiotics for unnecessary conditions, but they won’t perform a necessary medical test upon admission even though it is relatively cheap? That is absolutely ridiculous, especially given the cost-benefit ratio involved.

  5. #5 Valerie Jolie
    November 17, 2008

    I work with a company called activTek Environmental and we have a technology that scrubs the air and surfaces of all pathogens, including MRSA and kills it by 99.99% in 24 hours.

    We are currently working with a large hospital chain to ward off this epidemic called MRSA that kills over 200,000 people per year.

    If you work in a hospital, please refer to my website at http://www.activepure.com/valeriejolie for tests results from Kansas State University for proof of effectiveness. We are offering to put our technology in hospitals for an evaluation period at no cost to the hospital. Call my office for details.

    Valerie Jolie
    503-750-9143
    http://www.activtek.net/valeriejolie

  6. #6 mrsa
    April 2, 2012

    The Seattle Times report is pretty scary. Granted, this is from 4 years ago but I was wondering if you have an updated report about mrsa so we can see if what hospitals are doing is decreasing this statistic or increasing it.

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