Does it matter if you are colonised with MRSA? Yes… It matters a ton!

Medscape recently published the results of a study ( http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/819498_6) entitled Progression From New Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus Colonisation to Infection, which answers the question “Does it matter if you’re colonised (not infected) with MRSA?” Undeniably, the answer is yes, it does matter. In fact, it matters a ton if you are a patient about to have surgery.

This study found that patients are indeed at a much greater risk of a serious life-threatening infection if they are colonised with MRSA, and further found some other upsetting outcomes:

  1. 15% of the patients colonised with MRSA became infected (it cites another study where the rate was 33%);
  2. Mortality was over fivefold higher in MRSA colonised patients who developed clinical infections compared with those who did not; and
  3. Most of the infections had developed after the patients went home thus upping the re-admission rate of this group of people.

Why this matters? It matters because this study is yet further evidence that the current practice of not screening for MRSA carriers in pre-surgical patients results in greater costs to society as well as the health care system. The study suggests that hospitals should screen, identify and decolonise all patients presenting with MRSA, implying that anything short of this constitutes medical negligence.

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