Blog | Monday, May 7, 2018

A research agenda for MDRO prevention

Of course, I don't need to explain the clinical importance of multi-drug resistant bacterial pathogens (MDRO) to readers of this blog. I probably don't need to remind you that more research is needed either; that's why we have controversies! But, I should probably point you to five papers recently published in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology that outline the future research agenda for MDRO prevention in the US Veterans Health Administration (VA).

For our non-U.S. readers, the VA is the largest integrated health care system in the United States, with over 130 acute care facilities, 1,000 outpatient clinics, numerous long-term care facilities and 9 million enrolled patients. The VA has been a leader in medical and health services research for decades and has been well-ahead of the curve in application of interventions to prevent MDRO, including its MRSA prevention bundle and antibiotic stewardship initiative.

To continue the VA's success in MDRO prevention and link future research questions to the greatest clinical need, we invited a multidisciplinary group with 37 participants to Iowa City in September 2016. The aim of the panel was to outline the VA's research agenda for MDRO prevention. Dan Livorsi describes the process we used to identify the domains and research questions in an introductory editorial. The outlined research agenda was broad in scope and included efficacy, effectiveness and implementation questions. In addition, many of these questions are broadly applicable to study in non-VA and non-U.S. hospitals. We are all more alike than different.

Research questions fell into four domains:
1. Transmission dynamics: Resistant pathogens are spread via human hands and environmental surfaces. Disrupting this transmission is essential to controlling MDROs.
2. Antimicrobial stewardship: Strategies to reduce and improve the use of antimicrobials will slow the emergence of resistant pathogens.
3. Microbiome: There may be ways to manipulate or augment the human microbiome to eradicate or prevent colonization with resistant pathogens.
4. Special populations: Strategies need to be tailored to patient populations with distinct underlying conditions and in nontraditional care settings.

All 5 papers are open access. Thanks ICHE! And thank you to the brilliant group of VA investigators, clinicians and operational partners who traveled to Iowa City and contributed to this effort. We all hope it's helpful.

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). This post originally appeared at the blog Controversies in Hospital Infection Prevention.