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Arch Intern Med. 2003 Jan 27;163(2):181-8.

Prevalence and risk factors for carriage of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus at admission to the intensive care unit: results of a multicenter study.

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  • 1Unité d'Hygiène et de Lutte contre l'Infection Nosocomiale, Hôpital Bichat-Claude Bernard, 75877 Paris CEDEX 18, France.



Detection of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) carriers on admission to the intensive care unit (ICU) is an important component of strategies for controlling the spread of MRSA.


A prospective multicenter study was conducted in 14 French ICUs for 6 months. All patients were screened within 24 hours after admission, using nasal and cutaneous swabs In addition, clinical samples were obtained. Patient data collected on ICU admission included presence of immunosuppression; history of hospital stay, surgery, antimicrobial treatments, or previous colonization with MRSA; chronic health evaluation and McCabe scores; reason for admission; whether the patient was transferred from another ward; severity of illness; presence of skin lesions; and invasive procedures. Risk factors for MRSA carriage at ICU admission were estimated, and significantly associated variables were used to develop a predictive score for MRSA carriage. A cost-benefit analysis was then performed.


Of the 2347 admissions with MRSA screening, 162 (6.9%; range, 3.7%-20.0% among ICUs) were positive for MRSA, of whom 54.3% were detected through screening specimens only. Of the 2310 first admissions (vs repeat admissions) to the ICU, 96 were newly identified MRSA carriers. Factors associated with MRSA carriage in the multivariate analysis were age older than 60 years, prolonged hospital stay in transferred patients, history of hospitalization or surgery, and presence of open skin lesions in directly admitted patients. Only universal screening detected MRSA carriage with acceptable sensitivity. A cost-benefit analysis confirmed that universal screening and preventive isolation were beneficial.


The prevalence of MRSA carriage on admission to the ICU is high in this endemic setting. Screening for MRSA on admission is useful to identify the imported cases and should be performed in all ICU-admitted patients.

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