TUESDAY, Oct. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Infection-control cooperation and coordination among hospitals in the same region helps all of them reduce their risk of outbreaks, a new study finds.
Researchers analyzed data on methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections at all 29 hospitals in Orange County, Calif., and developed a computer simulation to assess "contact isolation," a method used to limit the spread of MRSA.
Contact isolation involves testing all patients for MRSA when they're admitted to a hospital. If a patient tests positive, hospital staff must wear gloves and gowns whenever entering their room or interacting with them.
The computer simulation was used to create scenarios in which different numbers of hospitals in the same region implemented contact isolation to varying degrees. Contact isolation at one hospital not only decreased MRSA at that hospital, but also at nearby hospitals that did not implement the prevention measure, the investigators found.
When all hospitals implemented contact isolation at the same time with a 75 percent compliance rate, MRSA prevalence decreased an extra 3.85 percent over what each hospital could have achieved on its own, according to the study, which was published in the October issue of the journal Health Affairs. The decrease in long-term acute care facilities was even larger, at more than 12 percent.
"Unless they are associated financially or legally, hospitals often have their own separate infection-control programs and procedures," Dr. Bruce Lee, director of the Public Health and Infectious Diseases Computational and Operations Research group at the University of Pittsburgh, said in a university news release. "However, hospitals are rarely isolated islands and instead share patients extensively with other hospitals in their area, which can facilitate the spread of MRSA infections."
"The more that hospitals work together and coordinate infection-control efforts, the more they all benefit," added Lee, who also is an associate professor of medicine, epidemiology and biomedical informatics in the university's School of Medicine and Graduate School of Public Health.
The National Patient Safety Foundation outlines what hospital patients can do to prevent infections.