Introducing a new cleaning protocol for patients recently discharged from the hospital can help prevent serious MRSA infections, but may be too rigorous for most to follow, according to the findings of a new study.
Individuals who were instructed to use a special mouthwash, nasal rinse, and soap for six months had fewer methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections, which is a serious health risk resulting from a bacteria that is commonly spread in hospitals. More so, hospitalizations or deaths caused by the pathogen were also reduced.
The findings were published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Researchers from the University of California Irvine School of Medicine identified 2,000 patients who were carrying MRSA colonies on their bodies after they entered the hospital. Those patients were enrolled in the randomized control trial focusing on hygiene education after hospital discharge.
The study compared hygiene education to a decolonization process involving specific procedures. The decolonization protocol included using a chlorhexidine mouthwash twice a day, bathing with chlorhexidine daily, and using a nasal mupirocin ointment for 5 days twice per month for a total of 6 months. The participants were then followed for one year to determine the risk of MRSA.
Roughly nine percent of patients in the education only group, which included 1,063 patients, were infected with MRSA by the end of the study period.
Comparatively, six percent of patients in the decolonization protocol group, which included 1,050 patients, had MRSA by the end of the study. Researchers noted the infection rate was much lower even though many of the patients didn’t follow the protocol fully.
The findings indicate that the risk of getting MRSA was lower in the decolonization protocol group. They had 44 percent fewer MRSA infections and an overall risk that was decreased by 30 percent compared to education alone.
That group also had a lower risk of needing to be hospitalized from MRSA and a 40 percent decreased likelihood of getting any type of infection from any cause or being hospitalized from other infections.
Nearly 24 percent of the education group patients contracted some type of infection from any cause. This compares to nearly 20 percent of protocol patients who contracted an infection by the end of the study.
Among the education group, nearly one percent of patients died from MRSA infection. Only 0.3 percent of patients in the decolonization protocol group died from MRSA infection.
Following a protocol for six months may potentially save hospital patients who would otherwise contract a potentially deadly disease, the researchers concluded. However, they noted that the protocols were difficult for patients to follow.
MRSA, which can be fatal, causes 80,000 invasive and difficult to treat infections in the United States each year. About 1.8 million people harbor the infection when they are discharged from the hospital.