Previously published guidelines are available that provide comprehensive recommendations for detecting and preventing healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). Our intent in this document is to highlight practical recommendations in a concise format to assist acute care hospitals in their efforts to prevent transmission of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Refer to the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America/Infectious Diseases Society of America “Compendium of Strategies to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections” Executive Summary, Introduction, and accompanying editorial for additional discussion.
1. Burden of HAIs caused by MRSA in acute care facilities
a. In the United States, the proportion of hospital-associated S. aureus infections that are caused by strains resistant to methicillin has steadily increased. In 2004, MRSA accounted for 63% of S. aureus infections in hospitals.
b. Although the proportion of S. aureus–associated HAIs among intensive care unit (ICU) patients that are due to methicillin-resistant strains has increased (a relative measure of the MRSA problem), recent data suggest that the incidence of central line–associated bloodstream infection caused by MRSA (an absolute measure of the problem) has decreased in several types of ICUs since 2001. Although these findings suggest that there has been some success in preventing nosocomial MRSA transmission and infection, many patient groups continue to be at risk for such transmission.
c. MRSA has also been documented in other areas of the hospital and in other types of healthcare facilities, including those that provide long-term care.