Preventing Bloodstream Infections by Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a type of bacteria that have become resistant to many commonly used antibiotics. While it is a treatable infection, it is a significant public health issue.

S. aureus (commonly referred to as "staph") is a common type of bacteria that normally live on the skin or in the nasal passages of healthy people. Certain strains of the bacteria that resist the usual antibiotics given to fight staph infections are called MRSA.

An infection can occur when these get inside the body through a cut, sore, catheter or breathing tube. Such infections range from minor — such as a pimple — to serious, involving the heart, lungs, bloodstream or bones.

A person who is already ill is at greater risk of getting a staph infection than a healthy person. This is particularly true of people who are sick enough to be admitted to a hospital.

At Cedars-Sinai, measures are in place throughout the medical center to prevent the spread of MRSA. These measures include:

  • Hand washing by doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers before entering and upon leaving a patient's room and before examining a patient
  • Encouraging visitors to patients to wash their hands frequently
  • Covering all wounds with clean bandages and preventing contact with soiled ones
  • Proper handling of personal items such as bedding, towels and other items to prevent the spread of infection
  • Proper cleaning of equipment or use of disposable items

How MRSA Infections Are Tracked At Cedars-Sinai

California hospitals are required to report these infections to the California Department of Public Health and the National Healthcare Safety Network, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The California department is required to adjust the data for risk factors according to the federal network's protocols. The risk adjustment methodology uses national data to compare the actual number of infections to the expected number, based on the age and health of the surgery patients.

What Is the Standardized Infection Ratio?

The standardized infection ratio is a summary measure used to track infections at a national, state or local level over time. The ratio compares the actual number of infections reported to what would be predicted, adjusting for risk factors that have been found to be significantly associated with differences in infection incidence. A lower number is better.

Impact on Standardized Infection Ratios After 2015 Rebaselining

The National Healthcare Safety Network instituted the new 2015 baseline time period for the number predicted calculation. The data included in the 2015 baseline will serve as a new reference point for comparing progress. CDC expects that hospital standardized infection ratios will increase and shift closer to 1. This shift reflects nationwide improvement in infection prevention from the previous baseline time period.