High rates of MRSA transmission found between nursing home residents and healthcare workers

May 29, 2015

High rates of MRSA transmission found between nursing home residents and healthcare workers

Society for Healthcare Epidemiology in America

Study finds transmission rates high in daily activities previously considered low-risk

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Healthcare workers frequently contaminate their gloves and gowns during everyday care of nursing homes residents with drug resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA, according to a new study.

The findings were published online  in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, the journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America. 

“Our study defines care activities that increase the risk of MRSA spread,” says Lona Mody, M.D., M.Sc., senior author of the study and a researcher at the University of Michigan Medical School and VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System. “This research is particularly important since residents in these communities require substantial assistance from their healthcare workers.”

Glove contamination with MRSA was more common than expected in the study

“One in four nursing home residents harbor MRSA in some settings. We know that healthcare workers serve as a vector for MRSA transmission from one resident to another in settings such as nursing homes,” said Mary-Claire Roghmann, M.D., lead author of the study. “The use of barrier precautions, such as gowns and gloves, limit this transmission, but guidance on when to use them is limited. The goal of our research was to determine the most important times to wear gowns and gloves in nursing homes by measuring the risk of MRSA contamination during different types of care.”

Researchers conducted a prospective observational study at 13 community-based nursing homes in Maryland and Michigan, evaluating 403 residents for MRSA colonization and then assessing whether interactions with healthcare workers lead to contamination of their gowns and gloves by MRSA bacteria. The study found 28 percent of residents (113 out of 403) harbored MRSA. Glove contamination was higher than gown contamination (24 percent vs. 14 percent) reinforcing the importance of hand hygiene between residents to prevent transmission of MRSA.

High-risk activities linked to glove or gown contamination included dressing residents, transferring residents, providing hygiene such as brushing teeth or combing hair, and changing linens and diapers. Healthcare workers do not wear gowns during much of this care because they don’t anticipate that their clothing will come into contact with body secretions during this care.

“New MRSA acquisition in nursing homes is substantial. Our study, for the first time, defines the type of care that increases the risk of transmission and suggests modifications to the current indications of gown and glove use,” said Roghmann.

Adds Mody, who is a member of the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, “This study nicely complements findings from another large randomized-controlled controlled study published recently which showed that a broad strategy that includes using gown and gloves diligently in high-risk patients reduces infections and MRSA.”

Read more about that study, which was published in JAMA Internal Medicine, here: http://umhealth.me/1EvubCF

Reference: Mary-Claire Roghmann, Jennifer Kristie Johnson, John D Sorkin, Patricia Langenberg, Alison Lydecker, Brian Sorace, Lauren Levy, Lona Mody. “Transmission of MRSA to Healthcare Personnel Gowns and Gloves during Care of Nursing Home Residents.” Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology. Web (May 26, 2015)

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/ice.2015.119




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