Universal rapid screening for methicillin-resistantStaphylococcus aureusin the intensive care units in a large community hospital

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Health care-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (HA-MRSA) infections constitute a significant risk for hospitalized patients. This study evaluates the costs and effects of comprehensive and state-mandated MRSA screening for intensive care unit (ICU) patients and subsequent contact precautions on the rate of HA-MRSA.


A pre- and postimplementation study was conducted in a 24-bed medical intensive care unit (MICU) and a 15-bed surgical intensive care unit (SICU) at an acute care 536-bed community hospital. This study used computerized records for all patients admitted to ICUs. Costs were estimated from financial records.


HA-MRSA infection rates did not decline after implementation of ICU screening. Regression analysis demonstrated that patients admitted from skilled nursing facilities, assisted living, and similar facilities were 12 times more likely to screen positive for MRSA as compared with patients admitted from home. The costs to identify each MRSA positive patient were $1,650 and $953 for comprehensive and state-mandated periods, respectively.


In low prevalence hospitals without MRSA outbreaks, it is recommended that MRSA screening be conducted on patients admitted from skilled nursing and similar facilities because they are most likely to be colonized with MRSA. Results do not support mandates to conduct screening on all patients admitted to critical care units.

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