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More We Than Me: How the Fight Against MRSA Led to a New Way of Collaborating at Albert Einstein Medical Center

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Publication Date: January 2008

Publisher(s): Plexus Institute; Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Author(s): P. Buscell

Topic: Health (Hospitals and other health care facilities)


With awareness of hospital-acquired infections like methicillin resistant S taphylococcus aureus (MRSA) reaching fever pitch, hospitals nationwide are struggling to reduce infection rates. This article explains how the Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia used positive deviance (PD), an approach that invokes cultural and behavioral changes in its front-line staff, to help prevent and control MRSA infections. The elimination of MRSA infections using PD comes from providing doctors, nurses, aides, therapists, housekeepers and all support service staff who have patient contact with a sense of ownership of the problem and a say in the solution. It is based on the premise that once people own and discover solutions, they will carry them out. Moreover, those on the front lines see when and how transmission of MRSA occurs and are therefore in the best position to determine and implement effective changes.

The authors describe the development of a PD initiative at Einstein where the number of infections dropped after implementation from 106 in 2006 to 85 in 2007. Jerry Zuckerman, M.D., the hospital's medical director of infection prevention and control and an early skeptic for SMASH (Stop MRSA Acquisition and Spread in our Hospitals) has been swayed by the preliminary results.

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