KCUR News
1:36 am
Sun January 4, 2009

Area Veterans Hospitals Curb Contagious Staph Infections

Kansas City, MO – Area Veterans hospitals are reporting that the number of hospital-acquired staph infections has sharply declined.

The V.A. Medical Center in Wichita says it's cut contagious staph, or MRSA, infections in half since March of 2007. That's when the hospital launched new MRSA prevention protocols. Peggy Hopkins coordinates those efforts and says the V.A. now screens patients for the potentially deadly bacteria when they're admitted, transferred, or discharged from the hospital.

Hopkins: "If they are a carrier, then we put them in contact precautions - which is isolation - so that we take extra measures to make sure that MRSA is not carried from one patient to another."

Similar protocols have been implemented in Veteran's hospitals across the country as part of a national V.A. initiative to curb MRSA infections. The V.A. Medical Center in Kansas City says it's also seen a decrease in MRSA infections since adopting the new measures.

Hospital-associated MRSA is a germ that's resistant to most drugs. It can lead to serious infections - especially among people who have weak immune systems - if it gets in the body through scrapes or wounds. A survey published last year in the American Journal of Infection Control found that MRSA is on the rise in the United States, with some 50 out of every 1000 hospital patients either carrying the bacteria or being infected with it.

Funding for health care coverage on KCUR has been provided by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

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