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Am J Infect Control. 2012 Jun;40(5):411-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2011.07.008. Epub 2011 Oct 2.

Evaluation of screening risk and nonrisk patients for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus on admission in an acute care hospital.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Microbiology, Education and Research Centre, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Dublin, Ireland.



Screening for methicillin-resistant Staphylocccus aureus (MRSA) is advocated as part of control measures, but screening all patients on admission to hospital may not be cost-effective.


Our objective was to evaluate the additional yield of screening all patients on admission compared with only patients with risk factors and to assess cost aspects.


A prospective, nonrandomized observational study of screening nonrisk patients ≤72 hours of admission compared with only screening patients with risk factors over 3 years in a tertiary referral hospital was conducted. We also assessed the costs of screening both groups.


A total of 48 of 892 (5%) patients was MRSA positive; 28 of 314 (9%) during year 1, 12 of 257 (5%) during year 2, and 8 of 321 (2%) during year 3. There were significantly fewer MRSA-positive patients among nonrisk compared with MRSA-risk patients: 4 of 340 (1%) versus 44 of 552 (8%), P ≤ .0001, respectively. However, screening nonrisk patients increased the number of screening samples by 62% with a proportionate increase in the costs of screening. A backward stepwise logistic regression model identified age > 70 years, diagnosis of chronic pulmonary disease, previous MRSA infection, and admission to hospital during the previous 18 months as the most important independent predictors to discriminate between MRSA-positive and MRSA-negative patients on admission (94.3% accuracy, P < .001).


Screening patients without risk factors increased the number of screenings and costs but resulted in few additional cases being detected. In a hospital where MRSA is endemic, targeted screening of at-risk patients on admission remains the most efficient strategy for the early identification of MRSA-positive patients.

Copyright © 2012 Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc. Published by Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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