Without a lot of dough or high-tech equipment, hospitals can conquer a dangerous infection.
For the past few years, drug-resistant staph (MRSA, for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) has run rampant in clinics, prisons, schools and gyms, generating scary, sci-fi headlines. MRSA preys especially easily on those with immune damage—including folks with HIV—and has killed patients in hospitals all around the U.S.
A Pittsburgh hospital joined a pilot program and fought back. It instituted several simple preventive measures (common in European health care settings), such as testing all entering patients for MRSA, using a swab of nasal passages and isolating and treating those with the infection.
The hospital also outfitted every room with its own blood-pressure cuff, stethoscope and container of foaming antibacterial hand cleaner. And it motivated employees to take responsibility for battling MRSA. Their enthusiasm was infectious: MRSA cases in the hospital’s surgical unit fell by 78%