ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Regular Yoga May Improve Eating Habits
Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine
Acupuncture May Trigger Natural Painkiller
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Almost Half of Adults Will Develop Knee Osteoarthritis by 85
Tequila Plant May Help Fight Bone Loss
Study Examines How Rheumatoid Arthritis Destroys Bone
CANCER
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Study Cites Gains in Gall Bladder Cancer Treatment
Herb May Counter Liver Damage From Chemo
CAREGIVING
Caring for Aging Loved Ones Can Be a Catch-22
Birthmark or Blood Vessel Problem?
ER Less Likely to Diagnose Stroke in Younger Folks
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Smog Tougher on the Obese
Bye, Bye Back Fat?
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
COSMETIC
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
DENTAL, ORAL
Holistic Dentistry-My View
Amino Acid May Be Key to Strong Teeth
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
DIABETES
Chamomile Tea May Ward Off Diabetes Damage
Coffee, Tea Might Stave Off Diabetes
Insulin Resistance Tied to Peripheral Artery Disease
DIET, NUTRITION
Quick Weight Loss May Be Best for Long-Term Success
Uncover Why Turmeric Helps You Heal
Heart Disease May Be Prevented By Taking Fish Oils, Study Shows
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
Home Renovations by Affluent Families Can Unleash Lead Threat
Cleaning House May Be Risky for Women With Asthma
EYE CARE, VISION
Eye Test Could Spot Diabetes Vision Trouble Early
Impotence Drugs Don't Harm Vision: Study
Eye Problems, Hearing Loss May Be Linked
FITNESS
Exercise Keeps the Brain Young
Seniors Who Exercise Help Their Health
Resistance Training Boosts Mobility in Knee Arthritis Patients
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
GENERAL HEALTH
Regular Yoga May Improve Eating Habits
Should the FDA Regulate Tobacco?
Diet, Exercise May Slow Kidney Disease Progression
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
Fish Oil Supplements Help With Heart Failure
Lack of Vitamin D Linked to High Blood Pressure
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Stomach Germ May Protect Against Asthma
Working Intensely Early on May Help Autistic Kids
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
MEN'S HEALTH
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Countdown to Hair Loss
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Musicians' Brains Tuned to Emotions in Sound
Love Hormone May Ease Discussion of Painful Topics
Meditation, Yoga Might Switch Off Stress Genes
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
SENIORS
More Whole Grains May Mean Less Fat
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Face Joint Issues
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
Omega-3 May Reduce Endometriosis Risk
Add your Article

3 Steps Might Help Stop MRSA's Spread

FRIDAY, March 20 (HealthDay News) -- A high-tech way of monitoring hand washing, a better means of disinfecting rooms and improved tracking of patients as they transfer from one hospital to another could all help prevent the spread of the MRSA "superbug" and other pathogens, researchers report.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a type of staph bacteria that's resistant to certain antibiotics. It can cause severe infections for people in hospitals and other health-care facilities, such as nursing homes. MRSA can also cause serious skin infections in healthy people who have not recently been hospitalized.

But MRSA can be beaten, suggest three studies that were to be presented this week at the annual meeting in San Diego of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America.

In the first report, Dr. Philip Polgreen, an assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Iowa, described an inexpensive way of electronically monitoring staff to be sure that they wash their hands before entering an intensive care unit. The system uses a wireless technology similar to Wi-Fi to transmit signals to a computer.

"Hand washing is one of the most important actions health-care workers can take to protect patients from developing hospital-acquired infections," Polgreen said during a March 12 media teleconference. "Yet hand hygiene compliance among physicians, nurses and other health-care workers remains unacceptably low," he said.

Currently, many hospitals have staff sit outside hospital rooms to record when people wash their hands, Polgreen noted.

In the new system, health-care workers wear a badge that interacts with a sensor on an automated hygiene dispenser placed outside or inside patients' rooms. Using this method, researchers were able to determine compliance with hand-washing protocols and identify staff who were following or not following hand-washing procedures.

"Testing has shown this new system to be accurate," Polgreen said, but he added that it still has to be tested in a variety of situations.

Dr. Marc Siegel, an infectious disease expert and associate professor of medicine at New York University School of Medicine in New York City, called the new system "impressive."

"We all agree that washing your hands is the way to go," Siegel said. But he is not convinced that hand sanitizers are totally effective. "Washing your hands with soap and water is better," he said.

In the second report, a team led by Rupak Datta, an M.D./ Ph.D. candidate at the University of California at Irvine, found that 40 percent of MRSA and vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) infections are transmitted by touching nearby surfaces. VRE is another dangerous antibiotic-resistant pathogen.

"These infections can be cultured off a variety of surfaces, such as doorknobs, countertops, computer keyboards and bed trays," Datta said during the teleconference.

To combat this problem, the researchers developed a new cleaning method for disinfecting patient rooms. Instead of using spray bottles, the method involved cloths saturated with disinfectant and included instruction in proper cleaning techniques.

The enhanced cleaning significantly cut down on MRSA but was only moderately effective in killing VRE. The researchers believe that a different method will be needed to reduce VRE infections.

"This suggests that cleaning measures over and above national standards can be important in reducing the transmission of multi-drug-resistant organisms, such as MRSA and VRE in high-risk patient care areas, such as the ICU," Datta said.

"It is interesting," Siegel noted, "that VRE is even more resistant to standard cleaning techniques than MRSA. That implies that the more resistant a bug, the more crafty it becomes and harder to eradicate."

In the third presentation, Dr. Susan S. Huang, director of epidemiology and infection prevention at the University of California at Irvine School of Medicine, examined the transfer of patients between hospitals in Orange County, Calif.

Sharing patients often means sharing hospital-based infections, she noted. "Our study is focused on trying to quantify how much patient-sharing occurs between acute-care hospitals," Huang said during the teleconference.

For the study, Huang's team looked at almost 240,000 people admitted to Orange County's acute-care hospitals in 2005.

"We found that 22 percent of patients will be rehospitalized within a year of discharge," Huang said. Most are readmitted to different hospitals than the one where they were initially treated. In an average month, each hospital exposed other hospitals to 10 of their patients, she noted.

According to Siegel, the transmission of infections from hospital to hospital is "being overlooked."

"Patients become deposits of bacteria, especially when they go from one facility to the next," he said, adding that it should be assumed that someone coming from another hospital is infected with drug-resistant bacteria.

In fact, routine decontamination of patients -- whether they are known to be carrying dangerous pathogens or not -- should be the status quo, Siegel said. "It has to become standard practice to decontaminate all patients who are in areas of high prevalence of dangerous bacteria," he said.

- Steven Reinberg

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on the health-care aspects of MRSA.



SOURCES: Marc Siegel, M.D., associate professor, medicine, New York University School of Medicine, New York City; March 12, 2009, teleconference with: Philip Polgreen, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor, internal medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Ia.; Susan S. Huang, M.D., M.P.H., director, epidemiology and infection prevention, University of California at Irvine School of Medicine, Irvine, Calif.; Rupak Datta, M.P.H., University of California at Irvine, Irvine, Calif.; March 18-20, 2009, presentations, Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, annual meeting, San Diego

Last Updated: March 20, 2009

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