A new screening technique for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) cuts by 75% the time taken to identify patients carrying MRSA and could be used to help prevent transmission of the bacteria in hospitals.
A study published in the journal Critical Care shows that a new molecular screening test for MRSA decreases the time between screening and notification of results from four days to one day, compared with standard screening methods. The new method also prevents patients from spending time unnecessarily in isolation wards and reduced transmission rates in one of the two intensive care units (ICUs) studied.
Stephan Harbarth and colleagues from Geneva University Hospitals used qMRSA, a new screening method that identifies MRSA's DNA in patient swabs, to test 1,053 patients on admission to the medical ICU and the surgical ICU in Geneva University Hospital. The study period lasted from January 2003 to August 2005. Harbarth et al. compared the time it took to get the results of qMRSA with historical records of the time taken to get notification of test results using the standard microbiological methods.
Harbarth et al. show that with qMRSA, the median time from ICU admission to notification of test results decreased from 87 hours to 21 hours in the surgical ICU and from 106 hours to 23 hours in the medical ICU. Isolating infected patients immediately after MRSA detection substantially decreased MRSA infections in the medical ICU but not in the surgical ICU. In the surgical ICU, qMRSA spared 245 MRSA-negative patients a total of 1,227 unnecessary days in isolation.