Commentary Points to Gaps in Guidelines for Prevention of MRSA SSIs

In this viewpoint, Kavanagh, et al. (2018) advocate the addition of two preventive strategies to the current U.S. guidelines for the prevention of surgical site infections (SSIs). 

The authors state, "It is known that Staphylococcus aureus, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), carriers are at a higher risk for the development of infections and they can easily transmit the organism. The carriage rate of Staph. aureus in the general population approximates 33 percent. The CDC estimates the carriage rate of MRSA in the United States is approximately 2 percent. The first strategy is preoperative screening of surgical patients for Staph. aureus, including MRSA. This recommendation is based upon the growing literature which shows a benefit in both prevention of infections and guidance in preoperative antibiotic selection. The second is performing MRSA active surveillance screening on healthcare workers." 

They add, "The carriage rate of MRSA in healthcare workers approximates 5 percent and there are concerns of transmission of this pathogen to patients. MRSA decolonization of healthcare workers has been reported to approach a success rate of 90 percent. Healthcare workers colonized with dangerous pathogens, including MRSA, should be assigned to non-patient contact work areas. In addition, there needs to be implemented a safety net for both the worker’s economic security and healthcare."

The researchers continue, "Finally, a reporting system for the healthcare worker acquisition and infections with dangerous pathogens needs to be implemented. These recommendations are needed because Staph. aureus including MRSA is endemic in the United States. Policies regarding endemic pathogens which are to be implemented only upon the occurrence of a facility defined “outbreak” have to be questioned, since absence of infections does not mean absence of transmission. Optimizing these policies will require further research but until then we should error on the side of patient safety."

Reference: Kavanagh KT, Abusalem S and Calderon LE. View point: gaps in the current guidelines for the prevention of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus surgical site infections. Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control. 2018;7:112