Researchers Call for a More Comprehensive Tracking System for MRSA Infections in the U.S.

Kavanagh, et al. (2017) conducted a review of epidemiological studies on the incidence of MRSA infections over time, along with an analysis of data available for download from Hospital Compare ( The researchers found the estimations of the incidence of MRSA infections varied widely depending upon the type of population studied, the types of infections captured and in the definitions and terminology used to describe the results.

They could not find definitive evidence that the incidence of MRSA infections in U.S. community or facilities is decreasing significantly. Of concern are recent data reported to the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) on MRSA bloodstream infections which indicate that by the end of 2015 there had been little change in the average facility Standardized Infection Ratio (0.988), compared to a 2010–2011 baseline and is significantly increased compared to the previous year. This is in contradistinction to the recent Veterans Administration study which reported over an 80% reduction in MRSA infections. However, this discrepancy may be due to the inability to reconcile the baselines of the two data sets; and the observed increase may be artifactual due to aberrations in the NHSN tracking system.

The researchers say their review supports the need for implementation of a comprehensive tracking and monitoring system involving all types of healthcare facilities for multidrug-resistant organisms, along with concomitant funding for both staff and infrastructure. Without such a system, determining the effectiveness of interventions such as antibiotic stewardship and chlorhexidine bathing will be hindered.

Reference: Kavanagh KT, et al. The incidence of MRSA infections in the United States: is a more comprehensive tracking system needed? Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control. 2017; 6:34