Hospitals Could Save Money and Lives With MRSA Screen
Routine screening of patients in the ICU for a common but serious infection called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) could save hospitals up to 500 dollars per hospital admission, according to a study published in the February edition of the American Journal of Infection Control.
MRSA typically affects the skin and causes serious and sometimes life-threatening infections. It is most commonly acquired in a hospital setting, where patient's immune systems are compromised and are therefore highly susceptible to infection. As many as 46 out of every 1,000 hospitalized patents are either infected or colonized with MRSA. It is very difficult and costly to treat this infection due to its resistance to antibiotic therapy. Subsequently, MRSA claims around 19,000 deaths each year.
Lead researcher, John A. Nyman, PhD, a health economist at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, and his team looked at the potential financial impact of routine screening for MRSA, a procedure that is not commonly practiced. They used a statistical stimulation model which analyzed the use of the MRSA screen in ICU patients only. This screen would allow for early detection of the infected individual who could then be isolated and treated before spreading the infection to other patients.
Their analysis found that at a minimum, the cost of screening would be canceled out by the cost-savings potential. In fact, they estimate that under optimal circumstances, it would actually create a 500 dollar savings per hospital admission.
Dr. Nytman commented in the report, "This study presents evidence of the cost savings from implementing a program that targets the ICU population but that has an effect that is hospital-wide. Although we find that this program pays for itself through the MRSA infections prevented, it is important that hospitals also consider how this type of program fits into their overall institutional, infection-prevention programs and realize that this intervention is only one of many alternative interventions that are designed to prevent healthcare-associated infections."
The annual cost of MRSA treatment in hospitalized patients is estimated to be anywhere from 3.2 to 4.2 billion dollars. The government has increasing placed more emphasis on reducing hospital acquired infections, such as MRSA, as an effort to reduce healthcare costs. This study is evidence of the growing movement to address these costs and provides a reasonable solution to protect patient's health while hospitalized.