The ABATE Infection trial, an NIH Collaboratory project led by Dr. Susan Huang, is featured in the September 12 Health section of the Wall Street Journal. The article describes several studies aimed at preventing the hospital-associated infection MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).
In the Reduce MRSA trial, published in 2013, Dr. Huang’s team demonstrated that treating ICU patients with a germ-fighting soap plus a nasal antibiotic ointment, an approach called “universal decolonization,” was superior to standard approaches in preventing MRSA infections. The ABATE Infection trial examines similar approaches to decolonization for all patients in non–critical care medical and surgical units, comparing the use of an antiseptic bath and nasal ointment to standard bathing and showering. More than 1 million showers and baths were taken over the course of the study, which has now completed enrollment. Data from ABATE are currently being analyzed, with the results expected to inform whether this strategy is effective in reducing hospital-associated infections.
“These are preventable infections and we should be able to drive them down to zero.” Susan Huang, MD
The Active Bathing to Eliminate (ABATE) Infection trial was conducted in nearly 200 non-critical care hospital units across the United States. The ABATE study team developed a training video to teach nurses and nursing assistants how to approach patients to administer a bath with a topical antiseptic agent containing chlorhexidine (CHG), or help patients take a shower using the liquid CHG soap. If the results of the trial demonstrate a reduction in unit-attributable infections or multi-drug resistant organism (MDRO) burden for the intervention units, this video could be used to train nurses and staff to implement CHG bathing in healthcare systems around the nation.
The ABATE trial (ClinicalTrials.gov #NCT02063867) is a large-scale, cluster-randomized pragmatic clinical trial (PCT) designed to assess a bathing approach for reducing multidrug-resistant organisms and hospital-associated infections (HAIs) in patients hospitalized in non-critical care units. Patients were bathed either according to the hospital unit’s usual care procedures (the control group) or bathed with a topical antiseptic agent containing chlorhexidine (CHG; the intervention group). Patients in the intervention group could shower using liquid CHG soap and a mesh sponge, or have a self-assisted or nurse-assisted bed bath using the CHG cloths. If a patient in the intervention group was colonized with, infected with, or had a recent history of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), the antibiotic mupirocinwas additionally administered nasally for 5 days.
The investigators hypothesize that this regimen will reduce the burden of vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) and Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in these units and translate to a reduction in overall bloodstream and urinary tract infections. They will also evaluate its ability to reduce antibiotic-resistant gram-negative bacteria and Clostridium difficile.
The ABATE Infection Trial has been conducted in hospitals in the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) health system and is an NIH Health Care Systems Research Collaboratory UH3 Demonstration Project supported by the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the Common Fund at the National Institutes of Health. This video was created and scripted for the trial by study investigators and filmed by Sage Products, LLC.
The Active Bathing to Eliminate (ABATE) Infection trial (ClinicalTrials.gov #NCT02063867) has completed its intervention phase—the first NIH Health Care Systems Research Collaboratory UH3 Demonstration Project to reach this major milestone. The large-scale, cluster-randomized pragmatic clinical trial (PCT) was designed to assess an approach for reducing multidrug-resistant organisms and hospital-associated infections (HAIs) in nearly 200 non-critical care hospital units affiliated with Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) across the United States.
The ABATE study is led by principal investigator Dr. Susan Huang of the University of California, Irvine, who stated “We are elated to reach the successful completion of the trial thanks to an incredible investigative team at HCA, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Rush University, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and UC Irvine. We look forward to what the trial data will tell us and hope that we can continue to find effective ways to protect patients from infection.”
In the ABATE study, patients hospitalized in non-critical care units were bathed either according to the hospital unit’s usual care procedures (the control group) or bathed with the topical antibacterial agent chlorhexidine (plus nasal administration of the antibiotic mupirocin for those patients who were colonized or infected with, or had a history of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus [MRSA] [the intervention group]). The study investigators will compare the number of unit-attributable, multidrug-resistant organisms in clinical cultures between the study arms; these organisms include vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), MRSA, and gram-negative bacteria. In addition, the investigators will compare the number of unit-attributable infections in the bloodstream and urinary tract (all pathogens) and Clostridium difficile infections. Cultures were collected at baseline and post intervention and will be assessed to determine whether resistance emerged to decolonization products.
“We are elated to reach the successful completion of the trial thanks to an incredible investigative team at HCA, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Rush University, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and UC Irvine.We look forward to what the trial data will tell us and hope that we can continue to find effective ways to protect patients from infection.”
Healthcare-associated infections caused by common bacteria, including MRSA and VRE, are a leading cause of preventable illness and death in the United States and are associated with upward of $6.5 billion in annual healthcare costs. Although these bacteria normally live on the skin or in the nose, under certain circumstances they can cause serious or even life-threatening infections. Hospitalized patients who are ill or who have weakened immune systems are especially at risk for such infections. Because these pathogens are resistant to many antibiotics, they can be difficult to treat.
In intensive care units (ICUs), reducing the amount of such bacteria (a process referred to as decolonization) by treating patients’ skin with chlorhexidine and their noses with mupirocin ointment has been shown to reduce MRSA infections and all-cause bacteremias. However, relatively little is known about the effects of decolonization in hospital settings outside of critical care units, although this is where the majority of such infections occur. The ABATE trial, in contrast, is testing its bathing and decolonization strategy in adult medical, surgical, oncology, and step-down units (pediatric, psychology, peri-partum, and bone marrow transplantation units were excluded).
Over the course of the study, more than a million showers and baths were taken, and all sites have completed the intervention. The next steps for the ABATE investigators are to finish strain collection over the coming weeks, and then clean, validate, and analyze the data over the coming months.
Dr. Huang was one 10 winners of CRF Research Achievement Awards, which are presented annually. A key report related to the ABATE project was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in June of 2013.
Additional details of the award are available here.