Following recommendations from a Health Technology Assessment (HTA), a prospective cohort study of meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) screening of all admissions (N = 29 690) to six acute hospitals in three regions in Scotland indicated that 7.5% of patientswere colonised on admission to hospital. Factors associated with colonisation included re-admission, specialty of admission (highest in nephrology, care of the elderly, dermatology and vascular surgery), increasing age, and the source of admission (care home or other hospital). Three percent of all those who were identified as colonised developed hospital-associated MRSA infection, compared with only 0.1% of those not colonised. Specialtieswith a high rate of colonisation on admission also had higher rates of MRSA infection. Very few patients refused screening (11 patients, 0.03%) or had treatment deferred (14 patients, 0.05%). Several organisational issues were identified, including difficulties in achieving complete uptake of screening (88%) or decolonisation (41%); the latter was largely due to short duration of stay and turnaround time for test results. Patient movement resulted in a decision to decontaminate all positive patients rather than just those in high risk specialties as proposed by the HTA. Issues also included a lack of isolation facilities to manage patients with MRSA. The study raises significant concerns about the contribution of decolonisation to reducing risks in hospital due to short duration of stay, and reinforces the central role of infection control precautions. Further study is required before the HTA model can be re-run and conclusions redrawn on the cost and clinical effectiveness of universal MRSA screening.
- hospital-acquired infection
- infection control
- Meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
- universal screening