MRSA active surveillance: It just doesn't make sense
A study in the June issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology takes a look at staphylococcal colonization in healthcare workers. Over 250 HCWs were cultured and nearly half (44%) were colonized with S. aureus. MRSA colonization was found in 7% overall and was highest in nurses (10.5%). If the findings of this study are generalizable to other hospitals, this study has two important implications. First, given that nearly half of HCWs were colonized with S. aureus, hand hygiene practiced at very high levels of compliance is warranted. It seems that in the hysteria surrounding MRSA it's been forgotten that MSSA is also a pathogen. Second, why should hospitals engage in active detection and isolation (ADI) when non-patients are a significant reservoir for MRSA in the hospital setting? For those who continue to truly believe in ADI it seems that to me that their logic should dictate that MRSA colonized HCWs be removed from practice. And then there are visitors who may be colonized. The solution there could be to ban all visitors to the hospital. Of course, all of this assumes that the ADI zealots are driven by logic. Here's my recommendation: let's stop focusing on who has what organism (see Eli's posting from a few days ago), and just get everyone to wash their hands before and after every patient contact. The key word here is every. And maybe if that happened, we wouldn't need contact precautions any more. Now here's an interesting thought experiment: what could we do with all the money that's been spent on MRSA surveillance cultures over the last 5 years?