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Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2008 Mar;211(1-2):205-12. Epub 2007 Aug 9.

Evidence for cost reduction based on pre-admission MRSA screening in general surgery.

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  • 1Department of General Surgery, University Hospital of Münster, Waldeyerstrasse 1, 48149 Münster, Germany.


Colonization with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a risk factor for MRSA infection causing increased costs in patient's care and treatment. To evaluate cost efficiency, pre-admission MRSA screening and subsequent MRSA decolonization of patients admitted to the Department of General Surgery at the University Hospital of Münster were determined. In 2004, 2054 (89.3%) out of the total of 2299 hospital-admitted patients were screened for MRSA (1769 elective and 530 direct admissions); 1536 patients underwent pre-admission MRSA screening (86.8% of the 1769 elective admissions), of whom seven patients (0.5%) were MRSA-positive and five of these were successfully decolonized before admission. In case of direct admissions, i.e., emergency cases or transferral from other hospitals, 2.4% and 8.6% were MRSA-positive, respectively. There were 25 patients MRSA positive during their hospital stay, two of these were nosocomially acquired, which represent 0.1 nosocomial MRSA cases in 1000 in-patients. The average MRSA carrier was (65+/-15 years) older than the other patients (55+/-17 years), had a significantly higher rate of pulmonary disease, coronary heart disease and certain infections; and had a longer hospital stay (27 versus 10 days, p<0.05). The total costs of the MRSA screening were approximately 20,000 euro. Since the estimated costs for handling MRSA treatment and isolation during a hospital stay are 6000-10,000 euro for each affected patient, we estimated that approximately 20,000 euro could be saved by detecting and successfully decolonizing a total of five patients through pre-admission screening. In this calculation, additional costs due to the increased morbidity and mortality of MRSA carriers and the possible spread of MRSA through unrecognized colonization were not included. In conclusion, pre-admission screening for MRSA is an effective method to reduce the hospital burden of MRSA-colonized patients and the savings due to consistent decolonization before elective admission outweigh the costs of screening.

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