CHICAGO Many U.S. hospitals have taken steps to rid their facilities of a drug-resistant type of "superbug" bacteria called MRSA but there is still a lot of room for improvement, infection control experts said on Tuesday.
The findings by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, or APIC, come a year after the same group found MRSA rates were more than eight times as common as believed in U.S. hospitals.
That study suggested nearly 5 percent of patients, 46 out of every 1,000, were infected or colonized with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA for short.
In a follow-up survey of more than 2,000 infection control experts, 76 percent said their hospitals have taken additional steps to prevent MRSA transmission in the past year.
But 54 percent said their hospitals were not doing as much as they could.
Kathy Warye, chief executive of APIC, said in a conference call that hospitals were taking a range of steps to address MRSA, including staff education, more aggressive hand-washing programs, stricter use of gloves, gowns and other measures when working with MRSA-infected patients, a greater emphasis on decontamination and targeted screening of patients.
"This poll indicates that many institutions are moving in the right direction," she said.
Of those surveyed who said their hospital has taken steps, 17 percent said their facilities added staff to address infection control and 21 percent added computer software to track infection patterns.
Warye said the chief complaint among those who said their facilities could do more was lack of staff and the need for better infection-tracking software.
"We are concerned that there are still some facilities that lack resources and commitment across the institution," Warye said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that in 1974, only 2 percent of staph infections in hospitals and other health-care settings were MRSA but that by 2004, nearly 63 percent were.