Health Team

Study Finds Drug-Resistant Germ Too Prevalent in Health-Care Settings

Posted October 16, 2007

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— Every 30 minutes in this country, someone dies from a serious form of an infection called MRSA. A study released Tuesday found that MRSA most often spreads through hospital or other health-care visits.

Staphylococcus bacteria generally live on the skin, but they can get into the blood through things like intravenous lines used to deliver fluids and medicines to people.

“The staff germ can follow the IV line into the blood stream and gain easy access and make a person quite ill,” Dr. Susan Ray of Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta said.

That can lead to MRSA – methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus.

The study, reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, says that serious forms of these infections are all too common in the U.S.

There were “over 94,000 infections and about 18,650 deaths in one year alone, in 2005,” said Dr. R. Monina Klevens of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, whose headquarters is in Atlanta.

CDC researchers, along with others across the country, studied thousands of MRSA infections. They found that in about 27 percent of the cases, people were infected while they were patients in a hospital.

The study found that 14 percent contracted the infection in the community, and about 58 percent got the infection after a health-care visit, such as dialysis or surgery.

“That's not to say that health care is not safe, but rather that health care has its risks,” the CDC’s Klevens said:

Klevens said the benefits still outweigh the risks, but more can and should be done to prevent MRSA infections in health-care settings.

Guidelines that the CDC published last year outline ways to do it. They include something both health-care providers and patients can do – keep their hands very clean.

The medical professionals who wrote the study emphasized that 18,000 people with MRSA infections died in 2005, but that does not mean all of them died because they had MRSA. The deaths were called MRSA-related.


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  • jorengia Oct 18, 2007

    Another IMPORTANT caveat to this story is that hospitals DON'T require everyone to wear protective gear where MRSA is involved. I am a nurse in an ICU and employees are required to wear gowns and gloves every time they enter a MRSA infected patient's room. Visitors are not.....even though I strongly recommend it. The hospitals don't have policies (or don't enforce them) for visitors to be required to wear such items. What good does it do for a visitor to be in close contact with a MRSA infected patient and then go out into the community with the bug on their skin, clothes, in their noses???? Most visitors that I encounter are good with washing their hands, but I believe that that is not enough...... We in the medical field have known about this problem for years.....and I am sure that only now that it is in the forefront of the media, will policies become more stringent.

  • Whatthehey Oct 17, 2007

    It's a "dirty" secret to many but widely known among local high school and college coaches that MRSA is frequently spread during wrestling and the use of communal bars of soap in showers. In addition to MRSA there are the Community-associated MRSA's, VRE's and other nasty bugs that can be passed between otherwise healthy, active people outside of hospital and nursing homes. For example, see Lindenmayer JM, Schoenfeld S, O’Grady R, Carney JK. "Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in a high school wrestling team and the surrounding community." Arch Int Med 1998;158:895-9. It is a shame that the public health agencies err on the side of protecting privacy or avoiding possible panic or outrage rather than sounding the alarm to raise consciousness about these sometimes permanent or fatal infections that can be acquired while participating in healthy, active pasttimes or in required P.E. classes in our schools. For more info, go to or Emerging Infectious Diseases.

  • 1Moms_View Oct 17, 2007

    This is not found only in hospital settings. It frequently does get contracted there, but mainly because of openings in the skin, such as surgery or an IV line. However, people commonly have the bacteria on their hands, in noses, etc. The problem is, if you have it and then have a break in the skin and touch it, you can develop MRSA from it. A teenaged boy in NC contracted it while working out in his school's gym on weight machines. From what I understand about his condition, he contracted it though a cut or abrasion in his skin while working out.

    I've had numerous patients return to long term care facilities from the hospital and within a day or so be hospitalized again due to MRSA. Those hospital stays are generally long and these patients who are already fragile medically, have a difficult time battling MRSA.

    My husband contracted it while in the hospital for surgery for cancer. The day he came home, he spiked a high fever and had to go back for IV antibiotic treatment

  • peacebee Oct 17, 2007

    What an incentive to try to stay healthy!

  • Stormy13 Oct 17, 2007

    My mother got a staph infection in the hospital when she had gall bladder surgery. She was discharged on a Friday and was re-admitted on Sunday through the Emergency Room. She had what appeared to be a round "boil" the size of an orange at the end of her incision site. They had to do surgery to remove it and just as they got to it, it burst! To make matters worse, the hospital had the nerve to CHARGE for these services when it was their fault she was infected and had to go back in the hospital in the first place!

  • NCMOMof3 Oct 17, 2007

    You're right, CommonSense, it is not found in just hospitals and other medical care facilities. MRSA is becoming more and more common in the public arena and it has been given a name. Community MRSA, or Community Spread MRSA. MRSA can live on the skin and in the nasal passages and can be spread in schools, nursing homes, prisons, daycares, locker rooms, gyms, dance classes, rec centers, anywhere there is close contact between people. I know personally of 5 people that have had it in the past year and it is not pretty. 2 of these people have had it twice. I wish the public was made more aware of the seriousness of this and the need for immediate medical attention. The recent article on the Cumberland County Detention Center and how there was little danger of it spreading there really concerned me as I felt it was misleading to the public.

  • nowon_yuno Oct 17, 2007

    There was was breakout of staph infections in UK hospitals last year. Viva Socialized medicine!. Hilary care will fix it! Longer waits in a potentially hazardous area to expose you to God knows what. Who cares! It's all free baby and thats what matters most! I'll be able to buy a big screen TV to watch American Idol with all the money I save from not having buy health insurance.

  • mt1190 Oct 17, 2007

    boils ?? ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww

  • common_sense_plz Oct 16, 2007

    To say that this form of germ is found in hospitals, makes it appear that you saying that it is the only place found. To assume this would be wrong, because I have known 2 people who did not have to have any shots or IV's that contracted this germ, and then had to have surgery to remove the boils and let them drain. It was very nasty. Just know that it is not just found in the hospital setting.