Evaluation of a protocol to control methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in a surgical cardiac intensive care unit.
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Introduction. MRSA is a major healthcare problem with particular relevance to morbidity and mortality in ICU (Byers & Decker 2008). Due to the increased infection risks associated with cardiac surgery, MRSA screening and surveillance is widely used as a standard preoperative Investigation In many settings (Teoh, Tsim & Yap, 2008). The results, in conjunction with appropriate hygiene precautions, are used to control and prevent infection with MRSA. Following an outbreak of MRSA in cardiac patients an MRSA protocol (MRSAP) was implemented In the cardiac intensive care unit in this study. Purpose. To evaluate how nurses implement the MRSAP in the surgical cardiac intensive care unit in this study, and to evaluate the change in MRSA infection rates following implementation of the MRSAP. From the results obtained, to identify any areas for improvement in nursing practice with respect to the MRSAP. Methods. Nursing staff knowledge with respect to the MRSAP was assessed using a survey questionnaire. Their compliance with required Infection control practice for control of MRSA was assessed through periods of observation on the unit. Screening compliance and reduction in infection rates were investigated using a retrospective records review. Results. The survey revealed good awareness of the MRSAP (88%, n=23), but knowledge of the detailed content was variable. Most staff were apparently satisfied with the existing standards of infection control in CICU (84.6%, n=22). Observation revealed that, compliance with routine hygiene measures was good (66% correct contacts, n=144) by the standard of other studies, but, given the high risk of postoperative infection for these patients improvements are required. Inadequate data in sampled records prevented meaningful analysis of screening compliance, and hence the systems for handling screening swabs and results need to be reviewed. The change in infection rates between the pre and post MRSAP periods, which incorporated use of infection risk stratification data to demonstrate comparability of the two groups of patients, revealed that despite the high MRSA infection rate in 2005 (1.18%), and subsequent drop post MRSAP (0.35%), the actual number of cases found was too small to test statistically for significant difference. An incidental finding was that female cardiac surgery patients were getting significantly younger (p<0.01). There was a significant decrease in hospital MRSA infection rates for matched periods (p<0.0001 ). Conclusions. Evidence was found to support the efficacy of the MRSAP in the reduction of MRSA infections. Deficits in staff knowledge and infection control practice were identified and feedback has been implemented in order to improve compliance with the MRSAP and maintain the improved infection rates. Further research with respect to implementation of, and compliance with, infection control measures could both improve quality of patient care and decrease the burden of preventable infectious disease such as health care associated infections (HAls) in South Africa.