Background: The incidence of skin and soft-tissue infections (SSTIs) has rapidly increased among children in primary care settings since the emergence of community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA). Recent treatment recommendations emphasize CA-MRSA as the primary cause, performing incision and drainage (I&D) as the primary therapy, and not prescribing antibiotics for uncomplicated cases. It is unknown how this epidemic has impacted primary care pediatricians in terms of their practice patterns and barriers they face to providing recommended therapies.
Methods: 3 Focus groups among 29 primary care pediatricians in the San Francisco Bay Area were conducted. Transcripts were reviewed and coded into major themes by two investigators using modified grounded theory.
Results: Substantial changes in clinical practice have occurred since the emergence of CA-MRSA. These include increased office visits for SSTIs, patients with multiple recurrences and transmission within households. Additionally, our participants reported increased visits for mild skin problems due to media reports contributing to fears about CA-MRSA. Participants routinely prescribed antibiotics for SSTIs, however, few performed I&D. Few were aware of recent SSTI treatment recommendations. Barriers to prescribing antibiotics with CA-MRSA activity included concerns about side-effects and lack of local epidemiologic data showing that it is the primary etiology. Barriers to performing I&D included lack of training, resources and skepticism about its necessity. Important clinical challenges included increased time demands for follow-up visits and patient education along with the lack of evidence-based strategies for preventing recurrent infections and household transmission.
Conclusion: CA-MRSA has influenced the presentation and treatment of SSTIs especially in terms of case numbers and recurrences. Barriers to providing recommended therapies can be addressed through improved dissemination of treatment guidelines and epidemiologic data. Studies are urgently needed to improve the evidence-base for treatment and prevention strategies.