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MRSA Screenings of ICU Patients Can Reduce Hospital Costs

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, January 31, 2011

Aggressive methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus screening of patients upon admission to the intensive care unit is cost-effective for American hospitals, study shows.

"What we've shown is that the use of widely-published screening processes will likely to save a hospital money by reducing patient stay, and that's good for the hospital's bottom line," says Gregory Filice, Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Infectious Disease Section at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

A study, led by John Nyman of the 279-bed Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Minneapolis, is based on calculating all conceivable costs of screening patients who might be colonized with MRSA, including gowns, gloves, masks, and the time to don them, and the cost of equipment dedicated to each infected patient.

The study, published a recent issue of the American Journal of Infection Control was performed with patients who were admitted to the intensive care unit between 2004 and 2006. The tally compared costs of imposing isolation precautions on those who had colonized MRSA (since infected patients were already isolated), compared with no intervention.

The bottom line is that the total cost of screening and isolating those patients with colonization, on a per patient basis, was either $22.22, $23.33 and $30.20 depending on which of three screening tests (culture, chromogenic agar or PCR) were used. But that was very cost-effective, compared to the cost of caring for a patient who became infected.

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