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Do active surveillance and contact precautions reduce MRSA acquisition? A prospective interrupted time series.

Marshall C, Richards M, McBryde E

  • Journal PloS one

  • Published 21 Mar 2013

  • Volume 8

  • ISSUE 3

  • Pagination e58112

  • DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0058112


Consensus for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) control has still not been reached. We hypothesised that use of rapid MRSA detection followed by contact precautions and single room isolation would reduce MRSA acquisition.

This study was a pre-planned prospective interrupted time series comparing rapid PCR detection and use of long sleeved gowns and gloves (contact precautions) plus single room isolation or cohorting of MRSA colonised patients with a control group. The study took place in a medical-surgical intensive care unit of a tertiary adult hospital between May 21(st) 2007 and September 21(st) 2009. The primary outcome was the rate of MRSA acquisition. A segmented regression analysis was performed to determine the trend in MRSA acquisition rates before and after the intervention.

The rate of MRSA acquisition was 18.5 per 1000 at risk patient days in the control phase and 7.9 per 1000 at-risk patient days in the intervention phase, with an adjusted hazard ratio 0.39 (95% CI 0.24 to 0.62). Segmented regression analysis showed a decline in MRSA acquisition of 7% per month in the intervention phase, (95%CI 1.9% to 12.8% reduction) which was a significant change in slope compared with the control phase. Secondary analysis found prior exposure to anaerobically active antibiotics and colonization pressure were associated with increased acquisition risk.

Contact precautions with single room isolation or cohorting were associated with a 60% reduction in MRSA acquisition. While this study was a quasi-experimental design, many measures were taken to strengthen the study, such as accounting for differences in colonisation pressure, hand hygiene compliance and individual risk factors across the groups, and confining the study to one centre to reduce variation in transmission. Use of two research nurses may limit its generalisability to units in which this level of support is available.