Happy New Year, constant readers. I hope you had relaxing holidays; I myself have been pounding the keyboard, forging through a chapter. (I hope to post pieces at some point, but I need to talk to my editor about when is the right time in the process.)
While I was out, there were a few interesting developments on mandatory reporting of MRSA infections, which we have talked about here, among other posts.
First, the Canadian province of Ontario has launched an amazing website that reports MRSA rates for all its hospitals and allows you to search all its hospitals by name or map location. This is part of an initiative launched last May by the provincial Ministry of Health and Long-term Care that created mandatory reporting for eight indicators of patient safety: C. difficile, MRSA, VRE, standardized mortality rates, ventilator-associated pneumonia, central line infections, surgical site infections, and hand-hygiene compliance. C. diff reporting began in September; MRSA, VRE and mortality rates rolled out on Dec. 30; and the other four will be reported from April 30.
When I look at the very incomplete patchwork of reporting we have achieved state by state in this country, I find the Ontario achievement just stunning.
But, some good news from the US also: Over the holidays, Virginia made its first report of invasive MRSA infections, acting on an emergency order written by Gov. Timothy Kaine following the death of a teen named Ashton Bond in 2007. Strangely, there is no sign of the report on the website of the Virginia Department of Health
(if anyone knows where it has been posted, please let me know).[UPDATE: The Virginia DOH very kindly got in touch to say that the numbers are drawn from a set of spreadsheets that are hosted here.] The Virginian-Pilot said:
There were 1,380 invasive MRSA cases reported from Dec. 1, 2007, through the end of this November. The rate for this region of Virginia was 15 per 100,000 people, slightly less than the state rate of 18.
People 60 and older had the highest rate of incidence, and blacks had higher rates than whites. …
Only about 30 percent of the cases reported to the Virginia Health Department listed a known outcome. Of those, there were 35 deaths.
The data do not distinguish between whether MRSA was acquired in a hospital or in the community. The state also doesn’t require reporting of the less serious forms of MRSA that involve skin and tissue infections. (Byline: Elizabeth Simpson)
I especially applaud this caution, attributed to Dr. Christopher Novak, an epidemiologist with the Virginia DOH:
“Just because you’re reporting it doesn’t mean it’s under control.”