Background: Screening at hospital admission for carriage of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has been proposed as a strategy to reduce nosocomial infections. The objective of this study was to determine the long-term costs and health benefits of selective and universal screening for MRSA at hospital admission, using both PCR-based and chromogenic media-based tests in various settings.
Methodology/principal findings: A simulation model of MRSA transmission was used to determine costs and effects over 15 years from a US healthcare perspective. We compared admission screening together with isolation of identified carriers against a baseline policy without screening or isolation. Strategies included selective screening of high risk patients or universal admission screening, with PCR-based or chromogenic media-based tests, in medium (5%) or high nosocomial prevalence (15%) settings. The costs of screening and isolation per averted MRSA infection were lowest using selective chromogenic-based screening in high and medium prevalence settings, at $4,100 and $10,300, respectively. Replacing the chromogenic-based test with a PCR-based test costs $13,000 and $36,200 per additional infection averted, and subsequent extension to universal screening with PCR would cost $131,000 and $232,700 per additional infection averted, in high and medium prevalence settings respectively. Assuming $17,645 benefit per infection averted, the most cost-saving strategies in high and medium prevalence settings were selective screening with PCR and selective screening with chromogenic, respectively.
Conclusions/significance: Admission screening costs $4,100-$21,200 per infection averted, depending on strategy and setting. Including financial benefits from averted infections, screening could well be cost saving.