Objective: To estimate and compare the impact on healthcare costs of 3 alternative strategies for reducing bloodstream infections in the intensive care unit (ICU): methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) nares screening and isolation, targeted decolonization (ie, screening, isolation, and decolonization of MRSA carriers or infections), and universal decolonization (ie, no screening and decolonization of all ICU patients).
Design: Cost analysis using decision modeling.
Methods: We developed a decision-analysis model to estimate the health care costs of targeted decolonization and universal decolonization strategies compared with a strategy of MRSA nares screening and isolation. Effectiveness estimates were derived from a recent randomized trial of the 3 strategies, and cost estimates were derived from the literature.
Results: In the base case, universal decolonization was the dominant strategy and was estimated to have both lower intervention costs and lower total ICU costs than either screening and isolation or targeted decolonization. Compared with screening and isolation, universal decolonization was estimated to save $171,000 and prevent 9 additional bloodstream infections for every 1,000 ICU admissions. The dominance of universal decolonization persisted under a wide range of cost and effectiveness assumptions.
Conclusions: A strategy of universal decolonization for patients admitted to the ICU would both reduce bloodstream infections and likely reduce healthcare costs compared with strategies of MRSA nares screening and isolation or screening and isolation coupled with targeted decolonization.