MRSA Infects 5% of ED Patients

Cheryl Clark, January 18, 2011

One in 20 patients in a Boston emergency department tested positive for methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and of these more than half carried MRSA on multiple sites, according to a study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

"Ours is one of the first studies to test patients in the ER for MRSA regardless of their reason for being there," said principal author Kalpana Gupta, MD, of the Boston Veterans Affairs Health Care System.

While it's too costly to test all patients for MRSA who present in the emergency room, or to make it a standard practice, a better way to prevent transmission within the hospitalis to make sure patients and providers wash their hands, his team advised.

"The ED is frequently used by patients with complaints of skin and soft tissue infections," and MRSA is the most common recovered causative pathogen in these patients, the authors wrote. What's also of concern is the asymptomatic patient, who can have a reserve of bacteria that's easily transmitted.

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