Assignment: Universal Screening

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Assignment: Universal Screening

Assignment: Universal Screening

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Another study published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that MRSA screening of surgical patients was not effective for preventing surgical infections. However, this study did not measure the impact on the spread of infections throughout the hospital, rather it only measured infections among the surgical patients screened. The study revealed that the results of 31 percent of the patients’ tests were not received prior to their surgery, thus negating the benefit of screening. Further, the study actually found those patients who were pre-screened and who got results prior to surgery, were able to receive the appropriate preventive antibiotics for MRSA and to “decolonize” prior to surgery. In this group, no infections occurred.26

Screening For MRSA is Cost Effective

Critics argue that this bundled approach for controlling MRSA is too expensive. But numerous studies have shown that screening and isolating patients who test positive for MRSA ends up saving money by preventing infections that would result in even higher costs for patients and hospitals.27 For example, the infection control program at Evanston Northwestern saves the hospital $25,000 in uncovered medical costs per patient every time a MRSA infection is prevented.28

Similarly, a recent analysis found that hospitals nationwide would save over $231 million annually if all elective surgery patients were screened for MRSA upon admission and proper precautions were taken with those found colonized with MRSA.29

States Begin Requiring MRSA Screening

The effectiveness of MRSA screening efforts at three hospitals in the Evanston Northwestern Healthcare system were documented in a study published on March 18, 2008 in Annals of Internal Medicine. Researchers studied MRSA interventions and found that universal screening of all patients upon admission resulted in an over 50 percent reduction in hospital-acquired MRSA infections.25

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has reduced MRSA in its intensive care units by 90 percent using this approach22 and significant results have been documented at the University of Virginia Health System23 and Evanston Northwestern Healthcare in Illinois.24



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