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Study Reveals Promising Method for Reducing MRSA Infections in Hospital Intensive Care Units

Posted Sep 09 2008 2:04am

Doctors at the University of Virginia Health System have significantly reduced MRSA infections among surgical intensive care patients by using antibiotic cycling, a method of rotating drugs at regular intervals.

In a study published in the September 3, 2008 issue of Surgical Infections, UVA researchers report that switching between two antibiotics, linezolid and vancomycin, every three months in the surgical ICU decreased the MRSA infection rate from 1.9 to 1.4 patients per 100 admissions. In-hospital mortality from surgical ICU-acquired MRSA infections fell from 3.8 patients per year to none.

Study data spanned six years, including the period before cycling began (1997 to 2001) and the period after it was instituted (2002 to 2003). The study’s key focus was resistant gram-positive cocci, a subgroup defined as MRSA (which stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and VRE (which is an acronym for vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus).

“Before we began cycling, 67 percent of the Staphylococcus aureus infections in our surgical ICU were caused by MRSA,” notes the study’s lead author, Dr. Robert Sawyer, a professor of surgery and co-director of UVA’s Surgical Trauma Intensive Care Unit. “Cycling reduced MRSA cases to 36 percent of that total.”

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