I am excited to announce the results of the REDUCE MRSA study which evaluated three current strategies for preventing methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (or MRSA) among adult critical care patients. This study – one of the largest to date on this subject, including over 74,000 patients — was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study shows that using antimicrobial soap and ointment on all intensive-care unit (ICU) patients can reduce bloodstream infections caused by MRSA and other germs by 44 percent.
The study is important for several reasons. First, it answers questions about control of antimicrobial resistant organisms and other healthcare-associated infections, and offers a promising new approach to protecting patients and saving lives. The study is also important because it demonstrates how creating the right partnerships can help us advance the science of patient safety. This study was made possible through a unique collaborative partnership having its roots in the CDC Prevention Epicenters Program, a group of CDC-funded researchers who work together with CDC scientists to explore novel approaches to save patients from healthcare-associated infections. Early research from these investigators and others conducted on a very small scale in single hospitals suggested that reducing germs on patient’s skin by bathing with a skin antiseptic would decrease transmission of pathogens and potentially prevent infections. To build on these results and to fill gaps in our knowledge about how best to prevent MRSA infection, CDC continued to partner with its Prevention Epicenter investigators, led by University of California, Irvine, and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, to design the REDUCE MRSA trial. We couldn’t do it alone, however. The study design required us to partner with a large hospital network that was willing work with us to incorporate scientific method into the everyday delivery of care, essentially becoming a learning healthcare system, and Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) accepted the invitation to participate. Subsequently, we approached the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to provide funds for the study, and our partnership was complete.
The result is a major advance in science, good news for patients, and potentially a model for how to advance the science of patient safety even further. Taking a novel hypothesis about how to better protect patients, and moving it along a path that began with small scale tests in a single hospital units and led all the way to the bedside of 74,000 patients was a challenging task. But identifying a novel approach that can reduce bloodstream infections by 44 percent illustrates the journey was well worth it.
The CDC Prevention Epicenters Program continues to work with its partners to move new hypotheses down new paths towards the goal of making patients safer.