Universal MRSA nasal surveillance: characterization of outcomes at a tertiary care center and implications for infection control

South Med J. 2010 Nov;103(11):1084-91. doi: 10.1097/SMJ.0b013e3181f69235.


Background: Recognition of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) nasal carriage by active surveillance cultures has been widely debated. Our institution implemented universal nasal screening by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for MRSA and isolation of screen positive patients in December 2007. Here we present data about the correlation between screen positivity and subsequent development of infection and the impact of isolation on surgical site infection rates.

Methods: This was a retrospective, observational study from January 1, 2008, through June 30, 2008, on all inpatient admissions with a nasal MRSA PCR screen. Genotype of 15 MRSA blood isolates was determined utilizing the Diversilab® (bioMérieux, Hazelwood, MO) system. A phenotypic rule was deduced and utilized for analyzing all MRSA clinical isolates.

Results: 5375 patients were screened at ≤48 hours following admission. 581 MRSA positive nasal carriers (10.80%) were identified. 496 (85.3%) were asymptomatic MRSA nasal carriers. There were a total of 158 MRSA clinical infections. 85 (14.6%) MRSA nasal carriers had clinical infection. Of the 4794 (89.1%) non-nasally colonized patients, 73 (1.5%) had MRSA clinical infection. MRSA surgical site infection rate remained unchanged during the intervention period. Phenotypic predictive rule inferred 59.8% community-acquired MRSA (CA-MRSA) infections and 40% hospital-acquired MRSA (HA-MRSA) infections.

Conclusions: Our study showed a positive correlation between having a nasal screen positivity and subsequent development of infection. Isolation of MRSA screen positive patients alone as an intervention did not reduce the surgical site infection rates. Since most of our isolates are CA-MRSA, our institution is implementing several new interventions to further reduce the incidence of HA-MRSA conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carrier State / epidemiology
  • Carrier State / microbiology
  • Carrier State / prevention & control*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Cross Infection / epidemiology
  • Cross Infection / microbiology
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / economics
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus* / classification
  • Middle Aged
  • Nose / microbiology
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Population Surveillance / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Staphylococcal Infections / epidemiology
  • Staphylococcal Infections / microbiology
  • Staphylococcal Infections / prevention & control*
  • Surgical Wound Infection / epidemiology
  • Surgical Wound Infection / microbiology
  • Surgical Wound Infection / prevention & control
  • Texas / epidemiology