Control of endemic methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus: a cost-benefit analysis in an intensive care unit

JAMA. 1999 Nov 10;282(18):1745-51. doi: 10.1001/jama.282.18.1745.


Context: Despite the success of some countries in controlling endemic methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), such programs have not been implemented for some hospitals with endemic infection because of concerns that these programs would be costly and of limited benefit.

Objective: To compare the costs and benefits of an MRSA control program in an endemic setting.

Design and setting: Case-control study conducted at a medical intensive care unit (ICU) of a French university hospital with a 4% prevalence of MRSA carriage at ICU admission.

Patients: Twenty-seven randomly selected patients who had ICU-acquired MRSA infection between January 1993 and June 1997, matched to 27 controls hospitalized during the same period without MRSA infection.

Main outcome measures: Intensive care unit costs attributable to MRSA infection, computed from excess therapeutic intensity in cases using estimates from a cost model derived in the same ICU, were compared with costs of the control program, derived from time-motion study of nurses and physicians. The threshold for MRSA carriage that would make the control strategy dominant was determined; sensitivity analyses varied rates of MRSA transmission and ratio of infection to transmission, length of ICU stay, and costs of isolation precautions.

Results: The mean cost attributable to MRSA infection was US $9275 (median, $5885; interquartile range, $1400-$16,720). Total costs of the control program ranged from $340 to $1480 per patient. A 14% reduction in MRSA infection rate resulted in the control program being beneficial. In sensitivity analyses, the control strategy was dominant for a prevalence of MRSA carriage on ICU admission ranging from 1% to 7%, depending on costs of control measures and MRSA transmission, for infection rates greater than 50% following transmission.

Conclusions: In this example of a hospital with endemic MRSA infection, selective screening and isolation of carriers on ICU admission are beneficial compared with no isolation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carrier State
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Cross Infection / economics*
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control
  • Female
  • France
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / economics*
  • Intensive Care Units / economics*
  • Male
  • Methicillin Resistance*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Isolation / economics
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Staphylococcal Infections / economics*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / microbiology
  • Staphylococcal Infections / prevention & control
  • Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects*