Rhode Island Hospital study identifies high-risk patient populations for MRSA carriage

April 16, 2007

Providence, RI - A Rhode Island Hospital study presented today at the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) annual meeting found that patients in long-term elder care and HIV-infected outpatients appear to be high-risk groups for carriage of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a common cause for health care associated infections.

"MRSA can be spread in the healthcare environment and community and can cause serious infections," said lead investigator Leonard Mermel, MD, medical director, department of epidemiology & infection control, Rhode Island Hospital. "Identifying patient populations that have a high risk of MRSA carriage is important in our efforts to control the spread of this microbe among patients."

In the prospective, multi-center trial, which was funded by 3M Health Care, clinical nasal swabs were collected from various patient groups at 11 sites in the country, including inpatients screened for MRSA through active surveillance, inpatients and outpatients requiring hemodialysis, inpatients and outpatients with HIV-infection, pre-op cardiac surgery patients and patients admitted from long-term elder care.

Among patients at facilities that did not regularly screen for MRSA, prevalence of MRSA was highest in patients admitted from long-term care (18 percent) and HIV-infected outpatients (17 percent), suggesting these patient populations are at especially high risk of MRSA carriage. In addition, this trial is the first to look at the quantity of MRSA in the nares (openings of the nasal cavities) of different patient populations.

Currently, the standard method to detect carriage of MRSA is by routine culture whereby results can take several days. Delayed results can lead to MRSA transmission since potential MRSA carriers are often not isolated from patients without MRSA until these results are available.
Founded in 1863, Rhode Island Hospital (www.rhodeislandhospital.org) is a private, not-for-profit hospital and is the largest teaching hospital of The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. A major trauma center for southeastern New England, the hospital is dedicated to being on the cutting edge of medicine and research. Rhode Island Hospital ranks 15th among independent hospitals who receive funding from the National Institutes of Health, with research awards of nearly $27 million annually. Many of its physicians are recognized as leaders in their respective fields of cancer, cardiology, diabetes, orthopedics and minimally invasive surgery. The hospital's pediatrics division, Hasbro Children's Hospital, has pioneered numerous procedures and is at the forefront of fetal surgery, orthopedics and pediatric neurosurgery. Rhode Island Hospital is a founding member of the Lifespan health system.


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