Medical Research’s Interview with:
James A. McKinnell, MD
Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute
Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?
Dr. McKinnell: Numerous experts and policy makers have called for hospitals to screen patients for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections and isolate anyone testing positive to prevent the spread of these so-called “Superbugs” in healthcare settings. Several states have enacted laws requiring patients be screened for MRSA upon admission.
We conducted two studies, both of which were presented as abstracts at IDWeek, the annual scientific meeting for infectious disease specialists, which found universal MRSA screening and isolation of high-risk patients will help prevent MRSA infections but may be too economically burdensome for an individual hospital to adopt.
Researchers at Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, the University of California, Irvine and John Hopkins University examined the cost of a hospital infection prevention strategy that tested all patients for MRSA and then took precautions to avoid contact with potential carriers. We found that using the traditional method of testing for MRSA in the nose, or nares surveillance, and then isolating MRSA carriers prevented nearly three MRSA infections. But it cost the hospital $103,000 per 10,000 hospital admissions. More extensive screening, through the use of other testing methods, which included PCR-based screening, prevented more infections, but increased the cost.
In the second study, we also evaluated the cost of a hospital infection prevention strategy that targeted high-risk patients. Again, we found the costs of the program exceeded the potential savings to the hospital that would be generated by preventing MRSA infections.
We found nares screening and isolation of high-risk patients prevented fewer than one infection (0.6) per 1,000 high-risk admissions to the hospital and created a financial loss of $36,899 for the hospitals. Using more extensive MRSA screening – which included nares, pharynx and inguinal folds screening – prevented slightly more infections (0.8 infections per 1,000 high-risk admissions), according to the study. But our abstract reported an even larger financial loss of $51,478 with the more extensive screening. Continue reading