Hospital MRSA Screening May Not Help

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Updated: 8/27 10:00 am

March 11, 2008 -- Curbing the spread of MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) in hospitals may not be achieved by screening patients before hospital admission.

So say Swiss researchers, who weren't able to reduce hospital-acquired MRSA infection by giving preadmission MRSA tests to surgery patients.

"There exists no one-size-fits-all solution to the problem of MRSA prevention," states an editorial published with the study in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

In the Swiss study, nearly 10,200 surgery patients were tested for MRSA before being admitted to the hospital.

The MRSA test detected MRSA in 5% of the patients, most of whom didn't know they were MRSA carriers. But although the MRSA test was "rapid," the MRSA test results often weren't available until after the patient was out of surgery.

Of all the patients in the hospital, both tested and untested, only one in a thousand acquired MRSA during their hospital stay.

There may not have been much room for improvement in reducing the hospital-acquired MRSA infection rate, note Stephan Harbarth, MD, MS, and colleagues at the University of Geneva Hospitals and Medical School.

Screening all hospital patients for MRSA is controversial, and basic infection control may curb MRSA along with other hospital-acquired infections, according to the editorial.

The editorialists included Daniel Diekema, MD, of the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and the Iowa City Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

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