I am at the annual meeting of the Association of Health Care Journalists, where last night we heard actor Dennis Quaid discuss the severe medical error that led to his infant twins being given 1000x the appropriate dose of heparin - twice. (Interesting tidbit: The twins were in the hospital because of a staph infection.) Quaid and his wife have set up a foundation that will work to reduce medical errors and is soliciting stories from victims and families.
Later today I'll be moderating a panel on mandatory reporting of hospital infections that we hope will provoke an, ahem, free and frank exchange of views. More on that to come.
Meanwhile, though, a wrinkle in the possibility that companion animals might spread MRSA: What if they are therapy animals?
An international collaborative group has contemplated that question and come out with a thoughtful set of guidelines that are published in this month's issue of the American Journal of Infection Control. The guidelines address both official therapy animals and also pets who live in long-term care facilities or are brought to visit patients.
Key considerations: Animals could not only spread disease to patients because they are colonized; they may also become colonized because they are handled by patients. Because transmission and colonization may be so dynamic, the most important preventive measure will be hand hygiene rather than attempting to evaluate the animal's bacterial carriage at any single point. And key points: To minimize opportunities for transmission, exclude animals that have come directly from a shelter or pound; animals that eat a raw-food diet; animals that haven't been or can't be housebroken or litter-trained.
The guidelines are here, and there's a good MSM summary by Helen Branswell of the Canadian Press here.