A new study finds there can be substantial benefit when contact precautions are extended to all known methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) carriers in nursing homes, not just those with evident infection.
Researchers used a computational model that included virtual representations of 71 nursing homes and 29 hospitals to compare three strategies: not applying contact precautions to any nursing home residents, applying contact precautions to individuals with clinically apparent MRSA infections, and using contact precautions for all known MRSA carriers identified by hospital screening.
Implementing contact precautions for those with clinically apparent infection had a minimal effect of less than 1% on MRSA prevalence in hospitals, which continued 5 years after starting the practice. The strategy did result in a median 0.4% decrease in MRSA prevalence in nursing homes. Using contact precautions on all known MRSA carriers resulted in a 14.2% in MRSA prevalence in nursing homes and a 2.3% decrease in hospitals 1 year after implementation.
According to the researchers, the findings support a more comprehensive approach to contain and prevent MRSA infection. They suggest that nursing homes include measures to help residents deal with the isolation requirement of contact precautions.
For more info, see Lee et al. (2013). The potential regional impact of contact precaution use in nursing homes to control methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, 34(2), 151-160. doi:10.1086/669091