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The Role of Negative Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Nasal Surveillance Swabs in Predicting the Need for Empiric Vancomycin Therapy in Intensive Care Unit Patients

  • Darunee Chotiprasitsakul (a1), Pranita D. Tamma (a2), Avinash Gadala (a3) and Sara E. Cosgrove (a4)

The role of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) nasal surveillance swabs (nasal swabs) in guiding decisions about prescribing vancomycin is unclear. We aimed to determine the likelihood that patients with negative MRSA nasal swabs develop subsequent MRSA infections; to assess avoidable vancomycin days for patients with negative nasal swabs; and to identify risk factors for having a negative nasal swab and developing a MRSA infection during the intensive care unit (ICU) stay.


This retrospective cohort study was conducted in 6 ICUs at a tertiary-care hospital from December 2013 through June 2015. The negative predictive value (NPV), defined as the ability of a negative nasal swab to predict no subsequent MRSA infection, was calculated. Days of vancomycin continued or restarted after 3 days from the collection time of the first negative nasal swab were determined. A matched case-control study identified risk factors for having a negative nasal swab and developing MRSA infection.


Of 11,441 patients with MRSA-negative nasal swabs, the rate of subsequent MRSA infection was 0.22%. A negative nasal swab had a NPV of 99.4% (95% confidence interval [CI], 99.1%–99.6%). Vancomycin was continued or started after nasal swab results were available in 1,431 patients, translating to 7,364 vancomycin days. No risk factors associated with MRSA infection were identified.


In our hospital with a low prevalence of MRSA transmission, a negative MRSA nasal swab was helpful in identifying patients with low risk of MRSA infection in whom empiric vancomycin therapy could be stopped and in whom the subsequent initiation of vancomycin therapy during an ICU admission could be avoided.

Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 2018;39:290–296

Corresponding author
Address correspondence to Darunee Chotiprasitsakul, MD, MPH, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine Ramathibodi Hospital, 270 Rama 6 Road, Ratchathewi, Bangkok, Thailand 10400 (
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PREVIOUS PRESENTATION. Part of this study was presented as an oral presentation at IDWeek 2017 in San Diego, California, on October 6, 2017.

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Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology
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