American College of Physicians: Internal Medicine — Doctors for Adults ®

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Reduce MRSA by getting horizontal

The results of this large cluster-randomized trial of different MRSA prevention strategies are in the New England Journal of Medicine, and are being widely (and mostly accurately) reported in all the major media outlets. Those who have followed this blog for any length of time know that we are not surprised at the results. Here's just a sample of what we've written on the topics of active surveillance and the difference between horizontal and vertical infection control strategies.

I can keep this post short, because Mike Edmond and Dick Wenzel have already done my work for me in their excellent accompanying editorial (no subscription required!). I'd mostly like to congratulate and thank Susan Huang and her excellent group of collaborators from HCA and CDC for making this very important contribution to the infection prevention literature, a contribution that should have a major impact on prevention practices.

But is it really "case-closed" on universal MRSA active surveillance, as the title of Mike and Dick's editorial suggests? Every study that has questioned the effectiveness of MRSA screening has been followed by a barrage of letters-to-the-editor questioning the findings, and I suspect that this study will be no different.
After my short post about this study, I promised that I'd follow up with the most likely criticisms we'll be reading in future letters-to-the-editor. My post was going to focus on concerns about emerging resistance to topical agents, the lack of impact on MRSA bacteremia, and the outsized influence of skin commensals on the outcomes (see my post on the chlorhexidine bathing studies).

Fortunately, our readers have done this work for me. Below I've excerpted a comment we received today:
"We applaud investigators for their hard work in completing a high quality study. Howe, it has limitations and recommendations are overreaching."

"--The intervention"

"Mupiricin/Chlorhexidine for all patients is very aggressive. Would chlorhexidine alone work in a similar fashion? (resistance is a real concern, especially for mupiricin, and if these agents become inactive they can't be used on high risk patients) We don't really know, but there will be calls to vastly increase antimicrobial exposure to mupiricin based on a study with a mixed intervention that prevented relatively few MRSA clinical cultures even over 74 ICUs I.E. A LOT OF PATIENTS WILL RECEIVE MUPIRICIN FOR A VERY SMALL ABSOLUTE DECREASE IN POSITIVE MRSA CLINICAL CULTURES!"


"Bacteremia rates were elevated in the intervention arm during baseline period (6.1 vs. 4.8 or 4.2). Overall bacteremia rate was nearly 50% higher in ICUs that were randomized to the intervention! The intervention itself brought bacteremia rates down to what they already were in other ICUs."

"The effect on bacteremia was mostly skin commensals such as coagulase negative Staphylococcus. As in Climo et al, this is probably the least important organism and may relate to decreasing contamination rates. We think this point is also important in the Climo paper, chlorhexidine bathing only had an effect on VRE acquisition and not MRSA acquisition and only had an effect on coagulase negative Staphylococci and candida bacteremia."

"MRSA Clinical Cultures are a mixed group of colonization/infections that vary depending on sites. Is MRSA in the sputum the same as MRSA in a deep surgical wound? Or urine culture? or superficial wound culture? Did the frequency of culturing change during the intervention. Given data was obtained from a datapull, all of these questions could be answered which would help interpretation of this trial."

"Although the trial is being hailed as a nail in the coffin of active surveillance culturing for MRSA, there are potential harms with over interpretation of the trial. If we begin using mupiricin and chlorhexidine on all ICU patients nationwide, as our European colleagues have suggested will occur, we may eventually have as many problems from the study as early studies of ASC. We also think that one cluster randomized trial should not change practice in such a sweeping manner."

"From a more cautious perspective, this trial and Climo et al support that chlorhexidine bathing likely has a benefit on infections in the ICU. It isn't a huge effect and it is predominantly on markers that aren't as important (MRSA clinical cultures and coagulase negative Staphylocci AND CANDIDA (and VRE for Climo)). However, it should be considered by hospital ICUs with problems in these infections."

"We should be worried that ASC may be finished only to be replaced by an equally problematic mandate (that more than swabbing every patient is actually treating every patient).""

We will also soon feature a guest blogger from a healthcare system with a long history of using active surveillance for MRSA control. He also has quite a lot to say about REDUCE MRSA. We welcome all of our readers to weigh in, please feel free to do so in our comments section! The name of this blog begins with the word "controversies", after all.

Daniel J. Diekema, MD, FACP, practices infectious diseases, clinical microbiology, and hospital epidemiology in Iowa City, Iowa, splitting time between seeing patients with infectious diseases, diagnosing infections in the microbiology laboratory, and trying to prevent infections in the hospital. This post originally appeared at the blog Controversies in Hospital Infection Prevention.

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Blog log

Members of the American College of Physicians contribute posts from their own sites to ACP Internistand ACP Hospitalist. Contributors include:

Albert Fuchs, MD
Albert Fuchs, MD, FACP, graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine, where he also did his internal medicine training. Certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine, Dr. Fuchs spent three years as a full-time faculty member at UCLA School of Medicine before opening his private practice in Beverly Hills in 2000.

And Thus, It Begins
Amanda Xi, ACP Medical Student Member, is a first-year medical student at the OUWB School of Medicine, charter class of 2015, in Rochester, Mich., from which she which chronicles her journey through medical training from day 1 of medical school.

Ira S. Nash, MD, FACP, is the senior vice president and executive director of the North Shore-LIJ Medical Group, and a professor of Cardiology and Population Health at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine. He is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Cardiovascular Diseases and was in the private practice of cardiology before joining the full-time faculty of Massachusetts General Hospital.

Zackary Berger
Zackary Berger, MD, ACP Member, is a primary care doctor and general internist in the Division of General Internal Medicine at Johns Hopkins. His research interests include doctor-patient communication, bioethics, and systematic reviews.

Controversies in Hospital Infection Prevention
Run by three ACP Fellows, this blog ponders vexing issues in infection prevention and control, inside and outside the hospital. Daniel J Diekema, MD, FACP, practices infectious diseases, clinical microbiology, and hospital epidemiology in Iowa City, Iowa, splitting time between seeing patients with infectious diseases, diagnosing infections in the microbiology laboratory, and trying to prevent infections in the hospital. Michael B. Edmond, MD, FACP, is a hospital epidemiologist in Iowa City, IA, with a focus on understanding why infections occur in the hospital and ways to prevent these infections, and sees patients in the inpatient and outpatient settings. Eli N. Perencevich, MD, ACP Member, is an infectious disease physician and epidemiologist in Iowa City, Iowa, who studies methods to halt the spread of resistant bacteria in our hospitals (including novel ways to get everyone to wash their hands).

db's Medical Rants
Robert M. Centor, MD, FACP, contributes short essays contemplating medicine and the health care system.

Suneel Dhand, MD, ACP Member
Suneel Dhand, MD, ACP Member, is a practicing physician in Massachusetts. He has published numerous articles in clinical medicine, covering a wide range of specialty areas including; pulmonology, cardiology, endocrinology, hematology, and infectious disease. He has also authored chapters in the prestigious "5-Minute Clinical Consult" medical textbook. His other clinical interests include quality improvement, hospital safety, hospital utilization, and the use of technology in health care.

Juliet K. Mavromatis, MD, FACP, provides a conversation about health topics for patients and health professionals.

Dr. Mintz' Blog
Matthew Mintz, MD, FACP, has practiced internal medicine for more than a decade and is an Associate Professor of Medicine at an academic medical center on the East Coast. His time is split between teaching medical students and residents, and caring for patients.

Everything Health
Toni Brayer, MD, FACP, blogs about the rapid changes in science, medicine, health and healing in the 21st century.

Vineet Arora, MD, FACP, is Associate Program Director for the Internal Medicine Residency and Assistant Dean of Scholarship & Discovery at the Pritzker School of Medicine for the University of Chicago. Her education and research focus is on resident duty hours, patient handoffs, medical professionalism, and quality of hospital care. She is also an academic hospitalist.

Glass Hospital
John H. Schumann, MD, FACP, provides transparency on the workings of medical practice and the complexities of hospital care, illuminates the emotional and cognitive aspects of caregiving and decision-making from the perspective of an active primary care physician, and offers behind-the-scenes portraits of hospital sanctums and the people who inhabit them.

Gut Check
Ryan Madanick, MD, ACP Member, is a gastroenterologist at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, and the Program Director for the GI & Hepatology Fellowship Program. He specializes in diseases of the esophagus, with a strong interest in the diagnosis and treatment of patients who have difficult-to-manage esophageal problems such as refractory GERD, heartburn, and chest pain.

I'm dok
Mike Aref, MD, PhD, FACP, is an academic hospitalist with an interest in basic and clinical science and education, with interests in noninvasive monitoring and diagnostic testing using novel bedside imaging modalities, diagnostic reasoning, medical informatics, new medical education modalities, pre-code/code management, palliative care, patient-physician communication, quality improvement, and quantitative biomedical imaging.

Informatics Professor
William Hersh, MD, FACP, Professor and Chair, Department of Medical Informatics & Clinical Epidemiology, Oregon Health & Science University, posts his thoughts on various topics related to biomedical and health informatics.

David Katz, MD
David L. Katz, MD, MPH, FACP, is an internationally renowned authority on nutrition, weight management, and the prevention of chronic disease, and an internationally recognized leader in integrative medicine and patient-centered care.

Just Oncology
Richard Just, MD, ACP Member, has 36 years in clinical practice of hematology and medical oncology. His blog is a joint publication with Gregg Masters, MPH.

Kevin Pho, MD, ACP Member, offers one of the Web's definitive sites for influential health commentary.

MD Whistleblower
Michael Kirsch, MD, FACP, addresses the joys and challenges of medical practice, including controversies in the doctor-patient relationship, medical ethics and measuring medical quality. When he's not writing, he's performing colonoscopies.

Medical Lessons
Elaine Schattner, MD, FACP, shares her ideas on education, ethics in medicine, health care news and culture. Her views on medicine are informed by her past experiences in caring for patients, as a researcher in cancer immunology, and as a patient who's had breast cancer.

Mired in MedEd
Alexander M. Djuricich, MD, FACP, is the Associate Dean for Continuing Medical Education (CME), and a Program Director in Medicine-Pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, where he blogs about medical education.

More Musings
Rob Lamberts, MD, ACP Member, a med-peds and general practice internist, returns with "volume 2" of his personal musings about medicine, life, armadillos and Sasquatch at More Musings (of a Distractible Kind).

David M. Sack, MD, FACP, practices general gastroenterology at a small community hospital in Connecticut. His blog is a series of musings on medicine, medical care, the health care system and medical ethics, in no particular order.

Reflections of a Grady Doctor
Kimberly Manning, MD, FACP, reflects on the personal side of being a doctor in a community hospital in Atlanta.

The Blog of Paul Sufka
Paul Sufka, MD, ACP Member, is a board certified rheumatologist in St. Paul, Minn. He was a chief resident in internal medicine with the University of Minnesota and then completed his fellowship training in rheumatology in June 2011 at the University of Minnesota Department of Rheumatology. His interests include the use of technology in medicine.

Technology in (Medical) Education
Neil Mehta, MBBS, MS, FACP, is interested in use of technology in education, social media and networking, practice management and evidence-based medicine tools, personal information and knowledge management.

Peter A. Lipson, MD
Peter A. Lipson, MD, ACP Member, is a practicing internist and teaching physician in Southeast Michigan. The blog, which has been around in various forms since 2007, offers musings on the intersection of science, medicine, and culture.

Why is American Health Care So Expensive?
Janice Boughton, MD, FACP, practiced internal medicine for 20 years before adopting a career in hospital and primary care medicine as a locum tenens physician. She lives in Idaho when not traveling.

World's Best Site
Daniel Ginsberg, MD, FACP, is an internal medicine physician who has avidly applied computers to medicine since 1986, when he first wrote medically oriented computer programs. He is in practice in Tacoma, Washington.

Other blogs of note:

American Journal of Medicine
Also known as the Green Journal, the American Journal of Medicine publishes original clinical articles of interest to physicians in internal medicine and its subspecialities, both in academia and community-based practice.

Clinical Correlations
A collaborative medical blog started by Neil Shapiro, MD, ACP Member, associate program director at New York University Medical Center's internal medicine residency program. Faculty, residents and students contribute case studies, mystery quizzes, news, commentary and more.

Interact MD
Michael Benjamin, MD, ACP member, doesn't accept industry money so he can create an independent, clinician-reviewed space on the Internet for physicians to report and comment on the medical news of the day.

PLoS Blog
The Public Library of Science's open access materials include a blog.

White Coat Rants
One of the most popular anonymous blogs written by an emergency room physician.

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