It is often that hospitals in a region share patients. Up until now, most studies on methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) have focused on one hospital or a small group of hospitals. A recent study published in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology shows the impact of a MRSA outbreak on all hospitals in a large metropolitan county. It was found that an outbreak of MRSA at one hospital can impact other hospitals in the same area.
The study used extensive data collected from Orange County, California. Collectively, the hospitals in Orange County serve a population of 3.1 million people. An agent-based model was used to simulate patient movement throughout 29 Orange County hospitals. Valuable information was gained from the results of this study. It was found that increasing MRSA prevalence at a single hospital resulted in an up to 46% increase in relative MRSA prevalence at other hospitals. This is cause for great concern as a MRSA outbreak at one hospital can affect all hospitals in the area. Hospitals therefore should not consider themselves an “island”, but part of an interconnected system.