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Elimination of Routine Contact Precautions for Endemic Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococcus: A Retrospective Quasi-Experimental Study

  • Elise M. Martin (a1), Dana Russell (a2), Zachary Rubin (a1), Romney Humphries (a3), Tristan R. Grogan (a4), David Elashoff (a4) and Daniel Z. Uslan (a1)...

To evaluate the impact of discontinuation of contact precautions (CP) for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE) and expansion of chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) use on the health system.


Retrospective, nonrandomized, observational, quasi-experimental study.


Two California hospitals.




We compared hospital-wide laboratory-identified clinical culture rates (as a marker of healthcare-associated infections) 1 year before and after routine CP for endemic MRSA and VRE were discontinued and CHG bathing was expanded to all units. Culture data from patients and cost data on material utilization were collected. Nursing time spent donning personal protective equipment was assessed and quantified using time-driven activity-based costing.


Average positive culture rates before and after discontinuing CP were 0.40 and 0.32 cultures/100 admissions for MRSA (P=.09), and 0.48 and 0.40 cultures/100 admissions for VRE (P=.14). When combining isolation gown and CHG costs, the health system saved $643,776 in 1 year. Before the change, 28.5% intensive care unit and 19% medicine/surgery beds were on CP for MRSA/VRE. On the basis of average room entries and donning time, estimated nursing time spent donning personal protective equipment for MRSA/VRE before the change was 45,277 hours/year (estimated cost, $4.6 million).


Discontinuing routine CP for endemic MRSA and VRE did not result in increased rates of MRSA or VRE after 1 year. With cost savings on materials, decreased healthcare worker time, and no concomitant increase in possible infections, elimination of routine CP may add substantial value to inpatient care delivery.

Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 2016;1–8

Corresponding author
Address correspondence to Elise M. Martin, MD, Division of Infectious Diseases, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, 10833 LeConte Ave, 37-121 CHS, Los Angeles, CA 90095 (
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Presented in part: SHEA Spring 2015: Science Guiding Prevention; Orlando, Florida; May 14-17, 2015 (Abstract 6820).

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Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology
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