A new study on antibiotic-resistant bacteria in hospitals shows that using germ-killing soap and ointment on all intensive-care unit (ICU) patients can reduce bloodstream infections by up to 44 percent and significantly reduce the presence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Patients who have MRSA present on their bodies are at increased risk of developing a MRSA infection and can spread the germ to other patients.
Researchers evaluated the effectiveness of three MRSA prevention practices: routine care, providing germ-killing soap and ointment only to patients with MRSA, and providing germ-killing soap and ointment to all ICU patients. The study found:
Routine care did not significantly reduce MRSA or bloodstream infections.
Providing germ-killing soap and ointment only to patients with MRSA reduced bloodstream infections by any germ by 23 percent.
Providing germ-killing soap and ointment to all ICU patients reduced MRSA by 37 percent and bloodstream infections by any germ by 44 percent.
The study, Reduce MRSA trial, was published in the New England Journal of Medicine and took place in two stages from 2009-2011. A multidisciplinary team from the University of California, Irvine, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) carried out the study. A total of 74 adult ICUs and 74,256 patients were part of the study, making it the largest study on this topic to date.