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J Hosp Infect. 2010 Mar;74(3):232-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2009.10.018. Epub 2010 Feb 12.

Impact of active surveillance on meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus transmission and hospital resource utilisation.

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Division of Infectious Diseases, and Infection Prevention, Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, Michigan 48202, USA.


The utility of active surveillance cultures (ASCs) for meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has been a controversial aspect of infection prevention. This prospective cohort study analyses the effect of ASCs for MRSA on hospital-acquired infections in a tertiary care hospital (hospital 1) and a community-based hospital (hospital 2). Both hospitals have high MRSA prevalence and are part of a large healthcare system in southeastern Michigan. Hospital-acquired infections in the intensive care unit (ICU) and in the rest of the hospital were compared before and after the implementation of ASCs in the ICUs. Patients in hospital 1 with evidence of MRSA colonisation from ASCs were placed in contact isolation during their stay in the ICU; patients from hospital 2 remained in contact isolation throughout their hospital stay. Prevalence of MRSA colonisation on admission to the ICU was 23% and 13% in hospitals 1 and 2, respectively. Average incidence of new colonisation during the study period was 1.85 per 1000 patient-days and 3.47 per 1000 patient-days in hospitals 1 and 2, respectively. A decrease in ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) occurred in both hospitals, whereas decrease in hospital-wide nosocomial MRSA infection was demonstrated only in hospital 2. We conclude that, in addition to standard infection prevention initiatives, ASC with contact precautions can be effective in reducing the incidence of VAP and nosocomial MRSA infection in healthcare communities with endemic MRSA.

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