Published October 07, 2013
Requiring health care workers to wear gloves and gowns while treating patients in the intensive care unit (ICUs) does not appear to reduce overall rates of bacteria methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) or vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE) infection, Medical News Today reported.
MRSA and VRE are the main causes of health care-related infections in the United States, affecting 5 percent of all inpatients. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that medical workers might prevent some of these infections by wearing gloves and gowns when treating patients, researchers from the University of Maryland set out to test whether this actually made any difference.
In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers collected samples from 26,180 ICU patients in 20 hospitals throughout the country – both upon admission and after discharge. Half of the ICUs included in the study were “intervention” ICUs, which required all health workers to wear gloves and gowns anytime they entered a patient’s room or had contact with a patient.
Researchers analyzed each sample to see which patients had been infected with MRSA or VRE while being treated in the ICU. Overall, when comparing intervention ICUs with regular ICUs, the difference in VRE infection rates was not statistically significant. The difference in MRSA infection rates was only borderline statistically significant, Medical News Today reported.
The small difference in MRSA-infection rates could be explained by the fact that the “intervention” ICUs had better rates of hand-hygiene compliance, which has proven to be extremely effective at preventing MRSA infections, the researchers noted.