Background: Despite methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) being endemic in virtually all US health care facilities, there are no data on the prevalence of MRSA in US health care facilities.
Methods: We conducted a national prevalence survey of MRSA in inpatients at US health care facilities. The survey was developed, received institutional review board approval, and then distributed to all members of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc. (APIC). Members were asked to complete the survey on one day during the period October 1 to November 16, 2006, reporting the number of inpatients with MRSA infection or colonization and facility-specific information.
Results: Personnel at 1237 hospitals completed the survey. Complete facility data were provided for 1187 (96%) of these health care facilities. All states were represented (mean, 23 facilities per state; range, 1-99). Respondents reported 8654 MRSA-colonized/infected patients in 187,058 inpatients; the overall MRSA prevalence rate was 46.3 per 1000 inpatients (34 infections and 12 colonizations per 1000 inpatients). Active MRSA surveillance testing was conducted by 29% of respondents: 54% used routine media, 38% used selective media, and 8% used polymerase chain reaction. Detailed data were provided on 7994 (92.4%) MRSA-colonized/infected patients. Our data suggest that approximately 70% of isolates were more consistent with health care-associated MRSA (HA-MRSA) than community-associated MRSA.
Conclusion: Our survey documents a much higher MRSA prevalence rate than previous studies using different methodologies. The majority of MRSA in inpatients appears to be HA-MRSA. Given that most facilities did not perform active surveillance testing, these are minimum estimates of the national burden of MRSA in US health care facilities.