Screening Lowers Staph Infections at United Regional

Medical experts say it's the most serious kind of infection that lands people in the hospital. But according to a recent study by the CDC, the number of people with staph infections in the US is going down.

In the study the CDC says in 2005 more than 110,000 people had staph infections compared to 80,000 people in 2011.

United Regional has also seen a decrease and they believe it's because of their screening procedures. United Regional estimates seven percent of its patients come in carrying MRSA, otherwise known as staph. 

“There are people who carry this bacteria around in their nasal passage, they are carriers of the germ. It's not causing them any problems but it's definitely contagious,” said Dr. Scott Hoyer, United Regional's Chief Medical Officer. 

That can put other patients with weak immune systems at high risk. But after a new screening program launched in 2008, United Regional says the number of those with the infection has declined greatly. 

Hospital officials say in 2009 they saw just under 750 cases of staph infection and last year that number reduced to about 460.

Now all patients admitted to the hospital are screened for the bacteria, not just the ICU patients. In the last two years they say no patient has contracted the disease within their hospital walls.

Phyllis Cowling, United Regional CEO, says it's putting an emphasis on patient safety. It's just one of the 10 categories considered for Truven Health Analytics "100 Top Hospitals" award, which they just received for the second year in a row. 

“This is very very data driven. And again it's across a balance scorecard of measures not only clinical quality and safety, not only patient perception of care, but really the total picture of excellence,” she said. 

Excellence shown by their work to reduce the number of staph infection through screening. Along with the 100 Top Hospital award, the hospital also received the Everest award for setting a national benchmark for the fastest and most consistent long term improvements made over the past five years.

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