JAMA: Gloves, gowns do not block all superbugs

MRSA rates reduced through glove, gown use

Requiring all health workers to wear heavy gloves and gowns may not prevent the spread of vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE), but it may inhibit methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), according to a study in JAMA.

University of Maryland School of Medicine researchers monitored 20 hospital ICUs from January 2012 to October 2012. More than 26,000 patients were involved in the study, and researchers collected 92,241 swabs. In all the ICUs, health workers followed CDC guidelines that require heavy gloves and gowns when entering a patient room and for all patient contact.

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Researchers found that the efforts reduced MRSA infection rates from 21.35 acquisitions per 1,000 patient days to 16.91 acquisitions. However, the measures did not reduce VRE infection rates, researchers say.

The findings suggest that "one size does not fit all" when it comes to preventing the spread of superbugs in the ICU, University of Michigan Health System's Preeti Malani wrote in an accompanying editorial (Preidt, HealthDay, 10/5; Smith, Medpage Today, 10/8).

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