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Qualis Health Aids Washington and Idaho Hospitals in Reducing MRSA Infections

March 13, 2009

Seattle, WA - Qualis Health, Medicare’s designated quality improvement organization (QIO) for Washington and Idaho, begins work this week with state hospitals to prevent methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today released a new Multiple Drug-Resistant Organism (MDRO) module for its National Hospital Safety Network, which hospitals use to track various nosocomial infections and to report information to the CDC. Hospitals working with Qualis Health will use the MDRO module to track two new MRSA measures. The information the hospitals will gain through this tracking activity will help them to identify and correct factors that contribute to the spread of these organisms.

MRSA has been one of the biggest healthcare stories across the nation over the past year, and was profiled in a detailed December series of articles in The Seattle Times. The so-called "superbug" is a product of over-use of antibiotics in hospitals, which have allowed the bacteria to build resistances to many powerful antibiotics, including penicillin and methicillin.

"The recent publicity surrounding MRSA has spurred many organizations to accelerate work on tracking and reducing the incidence of healthcare-acquired infections of all kinds," said Sharon Eloranta, MD, Qualis Health’s Medical Director for Quality and Safety Initiatives. "It is critical that hospitals continue to educate themselves and institute processes to prevent the spread of these organisms, and Qualis Health is here to help make sure that process moves forward as quickly and efficiently as possible."

Qualis Health’s role in the first phase of the module’s release is to educate hospitals on MRSA, as well as how to collect and interpret data for the module. Once the hospitals are self-sufficient in tracking and reporting their results, Qualis Health will work directly with them on implementing processes to improve their performance on the measures.

In Washington, Qualis Health will be working with 10 hospitals identified by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The list of Washington hospitals includes Evergreen Healthcare, Harborview Medical Center, Olympic Medical Center, SW Washington Medical Center, Swedish Medical Center–Cherry Hill, Swedish Medical Center–First Hill/Ballard/Issaquah, Tacoma General Allenmore Hospital, United General Hospital, Virginia Mason Medical Center and Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital.

In Idaho, two hospitals—St. Joseph Regional Medical Center and Mercy Medical Center—will work with Qualis Health on the MDRO module.

There is legislation pending in the state of Washington that, if passed, would make it one of five states requiring medical centers to screen incoming patients for MRSA.

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