Staph infections in hospitals are a serious concern, so much so that the term Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is as commonly known as MRI. Far less known is that in many of these cases, patients are infecting themselves.
In heart surgeries and knee and joint-replacement procedures, up to 85 percent of staph infections after surgery come from patients’ own bacteria, according to a 2002 study in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Despite the threat that staph bacteria pose to patients, there is no uniformly accepted procedure to reduce surgical-site infections in the United States. Now, a team of researchers led by the University of Iowa is recommending guidelines that will cut the infection rate by 71 percent for staph bacteria and 59 percent for a broader class of infectious agents known as gram-positive bacteria. In a paper published Thursday (June 13) in the British Medical Journal, the researchers recommend three steps to reduce post-surgical staph infections:
• For the 30 percent of patients who have staph naturally in their noses, apply an anti-bacterial nose ointment in the days before surgery.