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MRSA. How would you like to die from a preventable infection you contracted while hospitalized for minor surgery? That is what is happening to thousands of people every year. Is it possible the CDC, a government agency that is supposed to protect people, is underreporting these infections?

According to the latest figures published by the CDC, 1,700,000 patients contract hospital acquired infections each year. But when you look at the numbers, the fastest growing, and one of the most difficult to cure, MRSA (methicillinn resistant Staphylococcus aureus), is growing by leaps and bounds. In 1993, there were only an estmated 2000 MRSA infections reported in American hospitals. Then in 2005 there were 368,000 reported cases. In 2007, according to the American Journal of Infection Control, 2.4 percent of all patients had MRSA infections. That would result in an amazing 880,000 victims a year.

But, let’s look futher. MRSA only accounts for eight percent of hospital acquired infections according to Julie Gerberding, M.D., the director of the CDC. What about other superbugs such as VRE, (vancomycin resistant Enterococcus) and C. diff , (Clostridium difficile)?

These new facts discredit the CDC’s official 1,700,000 estimate.

There are many applications of life saving changes that need to be implemented in our hospitals. MRSA screening is one. The test is a noninvasive simple skin test. At Evanston Northwestern Healthcare System, a group of three hospitals near Chicago, the screening reduced MRSA infections seventy percent! Dr. Lance Peterson, the study’s lead author, stated, "If it works in these three hospitals, it will work anywhere."

NEW…More about the work at Evanston Northwestern Healthcare. Evanston received the John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Award for its work.

MRSA infection rates were cut by 60% within the first year of the program. Universal MRSA surveillance has also decreased the risk of other patients and staff becoming infected. Peterson indicated that "The biggest risk for getting a MRSA infection is becoming colonized in the nose with it. Our program has successfully prevented nasal colonization of patients coming to ENH for their care. We want people to come here for their healthcare and not go home with something unexpected that will later cause an infection – and the program is successful in doing just that."

If your hospital doesn’t do MRSA screening, ask why they aren’t utilizing this safe proceedure to protect their patients. I would be interested in their answer.

What about screening healthcare workers? Can they be the main carriers?

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