Keeping patients safe

New findings from a national study aimed at reducing hospital-acquired infections found that a two-step process reduced the risk of ICU patients becoming colonized with a serious common bacterium by almost half. University Hospital took part in the study.

The federally funded Benefits of Universal Glove and Gown— or BUGG — study was designed to look at whether requiring healthcare workers put on gowns and gloves when entering an ICU room reduced the risk of patients acquiring two common drug-resistant bacteria. Most hospitals only require them when a particular patient is known to be already infected.

Initial findings from the $5.7 million study, funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and published in late 2013, found that gowns and gloves didn’t make much difference when the results of all 20 hospitals that took part were pooled — although University Hospital’s own results found considerable benefit.

The latest findings from the BUGG study, which looked at a subset of patients across the country, found that when gowns and gloves were combined with bathing ICU patients in a germ-fighting chlorhexidine solution, it cut the risk of hospital-based MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, colonization by almost half. Bacteria have to colonize a patient before they can infect them.

Using either gowns and gloves or chlorhexidine baths alone cut the risk only slightly.

“There appeared to be an additive effect from doing both chlorhexidine (baths) and universal gloving and gowning — which is what we were doing here at University Health System.” said Dr. Jason Bowling, a UT Medicine infectious disease specialist and staff epidemiologist at University Hospital, who co-directed the local arm of the study with Dr. Stephanie Levine, a UT Medicine pulmonary and critical care specialist and medical director of MICU.

The study was published early online in the journal, Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.

Photo courtesy CDC