Having Elective Surgery?…..Get in and Get Out!

Every year tens of millions of people undergo elective surgeries in U.S. hospitals (40 million in 2000 according to the National Office for Health Statistics). The term “elective” refers to a pre-planned, non emergency surgical procedure. Due to advances in modern medicine, over half of elective surgeries are now performed on an outpatient basis, meaning the patient is admitted and discharged in the same day, without the need for an overnight stay in the hospital. However, even with these surgical advances, there remains a significant risk of developing a surgical site infection (SSI) after an elective procedure. Read More

MRSA in the Locker Room

One of the settings you’ve probably heard associated with MRSA infection is the sports world. Most athletes, coaches, and trainers now know that you need to take extra care around the locker room to prevent the spread of bacteria. This is especially true in sports that involve close physical contact and/or frequent injuries. Cuts, turf burns, blisters, and other sports-related skin injuries are beautiful places for bacteria like MRSA to grow. Combine these injuries with unwashed gear, dirty locker rooms, and direct physical contact and you’ve just created a “perfect storm” for an MRSA outbreak on your team. Not that this is a new concept – the risk of infectious disease has always been present for athletes (e.g. athlete’s foot, ringworm, lice, etc), its just that now the stakes have been raised significantly. Read More

Highlighting Veterans Affairs’ “War” on MRSA

In previous blogs I’ve tried to highlight some of the issues surrounding attitudes on MRSA prevention and the utility of interventions aimed at dealing with this problem. One of the great recent stories in MRSA and infection control comes from the US army, and specifically the steps that Veterans Affairs hospitals are taking to ensure safe care of their own.

Among other services, the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers healthcare and related services to some 23 million veterans. This organization spent $43.4 billion on medical programs in 2009,1 and operates 155 hospitals across the country. This network represents that largest integrated healthcare system in the United States. However, the VA hospital system hasn’t escaped criticism in the past regarding high infection rates and equipment sterilization issues. This year, VA sent warning letters to 1800 individuals who underwent dental treatments in a St. Louis VA Medical Center in 2009 after an inspection found that equipment was being improperly disinfected between patients. These and other similar smaller incidents within VA hospitals in the last decade have prompted calls for increased oversight and revised procedures for infection control. Read More

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