Over the past few years, Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities have been drawn into the spotlight because of a small, but widely reported, number of medical slip-ups — such as improperly processed endoscopy equipment at one facility. But a new article in the New England Journal of Medicine spotlights VA for something far more positive — infection-control practices that marked a dramatic improvement in preventing hospital-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections.
The VA initiative, now in its fourth year, reduced MRSA infections by more than 60 percent in VA intensive-care units across the nation, the article states. MRSA infections are a serious global health care issue and are difficult to treat because the bacteria are often resistant to many antibiotics.
The VA program’s prevention practices consist of MRSA patient screening programs, contact precautions for hospitalized patients found to have MRSA, and hand hygiene reminders with readily available hand sanitizer stations. The strategy also involved creating a hospital culture that promotes infection prevention and control as everyone’s responsibility.
“This is a landmark initiative for VA and health care in general,” said Robert Petzel VA’s under secretary for health. “No one should have to worry about acquiring an illness or infection from the place they trust to deliver their care.”