A tale of two organisms

The Committee on Patient Safety presents a “Tale of two organisms” in its scientific exhibit (SE81), which can be viewed on Level 1 of Moscone West. The organisms in question are community-acquired (CA) and hospital-acquired (HA) methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

For many years, the healthcare system has battled so-called super bugs, bacteria that have adapted to resist multiple antibiotics. Recently, healthcare facilities have seen an astounding increase in MRSA cases, as the following statistics show:

Next to death, surgical site infection remains the most dreaded postoperative complication that surgeons and their patients face.

  • By 2005, hospital admissions from MRSA infections were triple the number of admissions in 2000.
  • 368,600 hospital admissions and 18,650 deaths from MRSA infections occurred in the United States in 2005 alone.
  • 85 percent of MRSA infections are healthcare associated and account for 60 percent of Staphylococcus infections.
  • The MRSA bacteremia death rate is 2.5 times greater than methicillin-sensitive bacteremia and is estimated to be as high as 23 percent.

As defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CA-MRSA is characterized by no history of hospitalization, nursing home admission, dialysis, surgery, or indwelling catheter within one year. As its name suggests, HA-MRSA is seen in persons who have frequent or recent (within a year) contact with healthcare facilities (hospitals, nursing homes, dialysis centers), have recently undergone an invasive medical procedure, and are immunocompromised.

Hospital stays due to MRSA average more than twice the length of an uncomplicated admission. Several studies have estimated that antimicrobial drug-resistant infections increase death, illness, and direct costs by 30 percent to 100 percent. It is no surprise that recommendations have been made at a national level to eliminate reimbursement for treatment of HA-MRSA infections based on the presumption that these infections can be reduced with the use of evidence-based guidelines.

Find out more about the epidemiology, transmission, and prevention of these organisms. Members of the Committee on Patient Safety will be at the exhibit daily between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. to answer your questions.