Faculty member part of national study featured in New England Journal of Medicine

Mark Steele, M.D.
Mark Steele, M.D.

Mark Steele, M.D. ’80, professor of emergency medicine, chief medical officer and chief operating officer at Truman Medical Centers, is a co-author of a report released this month in the New England Journal of Medicine that explores the treatment of cutaneous abscesses, many of which are caused by Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, commonly known as MRSA.

The disease grew into the most commonly caused skin and soft tissue infection throughout much of the world, nearly tripling in the number of incidents presenting at hospital emergency departments between 1993 and 2005.

Surgical drainage of the abscess has long been regarded as the primary treatment. But the study conducted at a network of emergency departments at hospitals throughout the United States reveals that patients with abscesses in settings where MRSA is a common cause have higher cure rates when given the antibiotic trimethoprim–sulfamethoxazole in addition to the drainage procedure. Those patients also had fewer recurring infections and subsequent surgical drainage procedures.

“Skin abscesses are very commonly seen in the emergency department, and until now it was unclear whether antibiotics add any benefit to standard drainage due to the limited sizes of prior studies,” Steele said.

The emergency department at Truman Medical Center is part of an emergency medicine infectious disease network called EMERGEncy ID Net. Five hospitals from the network participated in the multi-center study including TMC, Olive View-UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, Johns Hopkins University Medical Center in Baltimore, Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix, and Temple University Medical Center in Philadelphia.

Steele served as the lead investigator for the TMC site. Amy Stubbs, M.D., assistant professor of emergency medicine, worked with Steele on the trial, serving as the TMC site sub-primary site investigator.

“Dr. Steele’s collaborative, multi-institutional research brings important funding and new knowledge both to Truman Medical Centers and the School of Medicine,” said Steven L. Kanter, dean of the UMKC School of Medicine. “The results of his research improve patient care in Kansas City and throughout the country.”

UCLA served as the central site for the study. TMC was selected to participate because of its history and expertise in conducting research in this area, its high volume of emergency department patients – nearly 5,000 a month — and the relatively large number of those who appear with skin infections, Steele said.

“TMC and UMKC’s long-term partnership, in addition to training a large share of the doctors in our region, produces top-quality research that betters the lives of our community and communities across the country,” said Charlie Shields, TMC president and chief executive officer. “TMC and UMKC will continue to expand research capabilities and capitalize on our relationships throughout the community to solidify our role as a leading academic medical center.”

The full article, Trimethoprim–Sulfamethoxazole versus Placebo for Uncomplicated Skin Abscess, appears in the March 3, 2016 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine