How carriers of Staphylococcus aureus do worse in the hospital

Originally published in Insidermedicine

Infections with a type of bacteria known as Staphylococcus aureus, or S. aureus, can be diminished by identifying and treating those who carry it in their nasal passages, according to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Here is some information about hospital-acquired infections:

• They are a common problem in hospitals worldwide

• They are a leading cause of death among hospitalized patients

• They increase the cost of healthcare, primarily by extending the length of hospital stays

Researchers from Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam identified over 900 individuals about to be admitted to hospital who were nasal carriers of S. aureus. The investigators randomized these patients to use an antibiotic nasal ointment and body soap or to a placebo group.

The overall rate of infection was more than twice as high for the patients using a placebo, as compared with those using the antibiotic ointment and soap. The treatment was particularly helpful with respect to preventing deep surgical infections – those who used the placebo were five times more likely to develop such an infection, as compared with those who used the antibiotic therapy. Overall survival rates were similar for both groups of patients.

Today’s research suggests that simple procedures for identifying and treating S. aureus in the nose can help reduce the risk of infection among hospitalized patients.

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