An infection control program was instituted at The Victoria General Hospital, an 800-bed acute care hospital, in July 1977. Serratia marcescens had infected or colonized (I/c) 225 to 232 patients yearly for each of the three previous years. Since this organism is usually acquired nosocomially, we decided to use Serratia I/C as a marker for our infection control program. During the years 1977 to 1980, we identified and eliminated several reservoirs of Serratia (contaminated urine measuring containers, urometers, diabetic urine testing equipment and in-use contamination of 2% Hibitane). Readmission of previously I/C patients proved to be an increasingly important reservoir. During 1980, only 120 patients were I/C, and gentamicin-resistant isolates of S.marcescens had dropped from 44% in 1977 to 4.4% in 1980. Use of Serratia as a marker enabled us to monitor the efficacy of our infection control program and allowed us to prove to our health care workers the usefulness of many of the measures we introduced.
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