Patients Discharged from Hospital at risk for MRSA Infection at Home

August 14, 2009

Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is “relatively common” among patients who have recently been discharged from the hospital and who go into home-based health care, the results of a new study show, and these patients may pose the risk of transmitting the illness to others in the household.

Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is “relatively common” among patients who have recently been discharged from the hospital and who go into home-based health care, the results of a new study show, and these patients may pose the risk of transmitting the illness to others in the household.

Researchers at the Bichat-Claude Bernard Hospital, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, in France found that 191 of the 1,051 patients who went from in-hospital to home care, or 12.7%, contracted MRSA. Among the 148 patients who were given a follow-up examination, 75 of them had “cleared the organism within one year.” Among the patients with MRSA, there were 188 household contacts and, of these, 36 individuals, or 19.1%, acquired MRSA, “though none developed an infection,” the researchers noted. The contacts who were older and who helped provide care for the patient with MRSA were “more likely to be colonized with MRSA,” the researchers also said.

"Sharing the same bed or bedroom, in contrast, was not associated with MRSA transmission," the authors wrote in relation to the findings about the contacts who acquired MRSA. "Thus, MRSA may be preferentially transmitted to contacts who are at high risk for hand contamination during care procedures."

During the study, the 1,051 patients were screened for MRSA before leaving the hospital. They were then followed up on and screened for MRSA every three months for a time frame of one year.

According to the researchers, it is difficult to tell if this transmission is “a serious public health problem” because “none of the household contacts who acquired MRSA developed an infection.” However, in order to keep the organism from spreading, the researchers state that “"household contacts should apply infection control measures similar to those recommended in the hospital setting."

Findings of the study were published in the August 10/24 2009 issue (http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/169/15/1372) of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.