Mrsa | Billings Clinic Called 'pioneer' For Its Approach To Reducing MRSA Rates

Billings Clinic has reduced by 60 percent its overall rate ofpotentially deadly MRSA infections, one of the most common, costlyand difficult-to-beat hospital-acquired infections. The clinic isbeing used as an example to other hospitals battling the issue,according to the Washington, D.C.-based not-for-profit PlexusInstitute.

“Everyone has been working on this problem six ways from Sunday,but the rates of infection kept going up,” said Lisa Kimball,president of Plexus. “Billings Clinic has been incredibly creativein pioneering a method that has proven highly effective. We are nowusing Billings Clinic as an example to other hospitals in thenation.”

MRSA, the commonly known name for methicillin-resistantStaphylococcus aureus, is a bacterium that is resistant toantibiotics in the penicillin family, the ones usually prescribedto treat bacterial infections. If untreated or treated improperly,it can kill human tissue and damage internal organs. About 19,000Americans die annually from MRSA infections, according to theCDC.

Reducing infection rates plays a significant role in controllingthe rising cost of health care. The average extra cost to ahospital for treating a patient who becomes infected with MRSA is$27,000, adding $10 billion a year to the country’s health carebill, according to Plexus.

Billings Clinic employees have been working for nearly fiveyears to change behavior and create innovative programs that have alasting impact on curbing the infection.

“We are humbled,” said Nancy Iversen, a registered nurse anddirector of safety and infection control at Billings Clinic. “We’vecreated an environment that is safer for patients.”

The hospital engaged front-line employees, those who interactwith patients and are likely to be affected by MRSA, asking themhow best to address the problem. The efforts were aimed at changingthe hospital’s culture and everyday behavior. Employees, forexample, are encouraged to call out a colleague for violatingsafety guidelines.

Most people know the way to reduce infection requires takingprecautions such as wearing gloves and washing your hands. But inthe hectic and overworked world of today’s hospitals, staff membersoften fail to take these necessary steps even when

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