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Friday, May 8, 2009 - Page updated at 01:15 p.m.

A Seattle Times Investigation

Culture of resistance

The drug-resistant germ MRSA lurks in Washington hospitals, carried by patients and staff and fueled by inconsistent infection control. This stubborn germ is spreading at an alarming rate, but no one has tracked these cases — until now.

Part 1

How our hospitals unleashed an epidemic


MRSA has been quietly killing in hospitals for decades. The Seattle Times analyzed millions of records to track the swath of one of the nation's most widespread — and preventable — epidemics.

MIKE SIEGEL / THE SEATTLE TIMES

The burn team uses MRSA contact precautions as it tends to a patient in isolation at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

Part 2

After deadly outbreaks, hospital slow to change


Harborview Medical Center's struggles tell the story of MRSA: the history of outbreaks, the mounting casualties, the resistance to change. Four decades after its patients began dying of MRSA, Harborview still uses measures that may place patients at risk.

Graphic | MRSA at Harborview

Harborview infection control policy (PDF)

MIKE SIEGEL / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Norman Hurst, who had suffered devastating burns in a traffic accident, was Harborview's "patient No. 1" of a deadly MRSA breakout that would take 15 months to stamp out.

Part 3

MRSA: Patients revolt against hospital secrecy


Consumers have demanded more aggressive steps to control infections like MRSA. But in Washington, MRSA rates remain hidden and state initiatives to combat the drug-resistant germ have come up short.

Consumers Union wages campaign to reduce infections

Gov. Gregoire's expert panel report (PDF)

State deparment of health lab study 2008

Consumers spur reforms | Map of states that require report cards

MIKE SIEGEL / THE SEATTLE TIMES

MRSA survivor Jeanine Thomas has become one of the nation's most influential patient advocates for hospital transparency.

 
Updates
About this series

For this project, The Seattle Times confronted a big hurdle: If the state and federal governments don't bother to count MRSA cases, how could we do it ourselves?

Inside the numbers: how we did it

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