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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Screening and control of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in 186 intensive care units: different situations and individual solutions

Anke Kohlenberg1*, Frank Schwab23, Michael Behnke23, Christine Geffers23 and Petra Gastmeier23

Author Affiliations

1 Institute for Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Hygiene, University of Cologne, Goldenfelsstrasse 19-21, 50935 Cologne, Germany

2 Institute of Hygiene and Environmental Medicine, Charité University Medicine Berlin, Hindenburgdamm 27, 12203 Berlin, Germany

3 National Reference Centre for Surveillance of Nosocomial Infections, Hindenburgdamm 27, 12203 Berlin, Germany

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Critical Care 2011, 15:R285  doi:10.1186/cc10571

Published: 25 November 2011

Abstract

Introduction

Controversy exists about the benefit of screening for prevention of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in intensive care units (ICUs) and recent studies have shown conflicting results. The aim of this observational study was to describe and evaluate the association between MRSA incidence densities (IDs) and screening and control measures in ICUs participating in the German Nosocomial Infection Surveillance System.

Methods

The surveillance module for multidrug-resistant bacteria collects data on MRSA cases in ICUs with the aim to provide a national reference and a tool for evaluation of infection control management. The median IDs of MRSA cases per 1000 patient-days (pd) with the interquartile range (IQR) were calculated from the pooled data of 186 ICUs and correlated with parameters derived from a detailed questionnaire regarding ICU structure, microbiological diagnostics and MRSA screening and control measures. The association between questionnaire results and MRSA cases was evaluated by generalized linear regression models.

Results

One hundred eighty-six ICUs submitted data on MRSA cases for 2007 and 2008 and completed the questionnaire. During the period of analysis, 4935 MRSA cases occurred in these ICUs; of these, 3928 (79.6%) were imported and 1007 MRSA cases (20.4%) were ICU-acquired. Median MRSA IDs were 3.23 (IQR 1.24-5.73), 2.24 (IQR 0.63-4.30) and 0.64 (IQR 0.17-1.39) per 1000 pd for all cases, imported and ICU-acquired MRSA cases, respectively. MRSA IDs as well as implemented MRSA screening and control measures varied widely between ICUs. ICUs performing universal admission screening had significantly higher MRSA IDs than ICUs performing targeted or no screening. Separate regression models for ICUs with different screening strategies included the incidence of imported MRSA cases, the type of ICU, and the length of stay in independent association with the number of ICU-acquired MRSA cases.

Conclusions

The analysis shows that MRSA IDs and structural parameters differ considerably between ICUs. In response, ICUs have combined screening and control measures in many ways to achieve various individual solutions. The incidence of imported MRSA cases might be helpful for consideration in the planning of MRSA control programmes.