Dr. Peterson gave his standard talk, but spent even less time than usual on his disclosure slide…several nanoseconds, but not enough time for the audience to note the degree of financial support he has received, both in honoraria and research support, from the makers of rapid MRSA detection tests. He also spoke in the evening at a satellite symposium, complete with dinner, funded by Roche. I didn’t go to that session…..
Imagine this scenario: your hospital has successfully reduced MRSA infection rates (and those due to other pathogens) using a broad-based strategy that includes excellent hand hygiene adherence and significant reductions in device-associated and surgical site infection rates. You are nonetheless forced (by state legislation) to start an active MRSA screening program, draining money from other important prevention priorities and exposing patients to important noninfectious adverse outcomes. All this as a result of the efforts of MRSA screening advocates who have major conflicts of interest with companies that stand to reap financial benefit from MRSA screening. Our colleague Kathy Kirkland hit this nail on the head (really!) in her response to a recent letter to the editor from Farr and Jarvis:
“It is said that to a person with a hammer, everything looks like a nail, and perhaps this is even more true of someone who consults for a hammer company. When 2 experts in the field of health care epidemiology repeatedly call for “every health care facility” to implement a program of active detection and isolation, they rightfully attract our attention. When one of these experts discloses potential conflicts of interest that include a relationship with a company that markets a diagnostic test for MRSA, we must view these calls with caution.”