12 Investigates: Fighting back against superbugs in hospitals

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A ground breaking new study from the McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Richmond - doctors may have discovered a simple way hospitals nationwide can stop the spread of superbugs.

A staph infection, one of many drug-resistant infections spread by touch, can kill you. Often times, people pass it around in the very place you go to get well: the hospital.

But this and other drug-resistant bacteria, like clostridium difficile, may have finally met their match: specialized wash clothes doused in chlorhexidine.

"It stays around the skin after you use it," said Ed Wong, VAMC Chief of infectious disease. He says it kills off the bad bacteria - keeping it from spreading.

Doctor Wong and Doctor Michael Climo used the special wipes in their multi-million dollar study. They recruited seven hospitals to test out the theory. "We thought it was a very simple practice change in the hospital. Bathing is something the patients undergo everyday," said Climo.

"We found that, in fact, it's very effective. It achieved a 23% reduction in the spread of these organisms," said Wong.

The wipes even stopped bacteria from getting into catheters, infecting a patient's blood stream.

"We proved that a very simple, low cost procedure can significantly reduce the problem of drug-resistant bacteria," said Wong.

Their research is now featured in the New England Journal of Medicine. Their hope is, it becomes standard practice in hospitals around the country, keeping more patients safe from superbugs.

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