alexa Should healthcare workers be screened routinely for meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus? A review of the evidence.


Occupational Medicine & Health Affairs

Author(s): G Hawkins, S Stewart, O Blatchford, J Reilly

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Meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is considered endemic in the UK National Health Service (NHS), and routine MRSA screening of hospital inpatients has recently been introduced in both Scotland and England. The UK National Screening Committee states that public pressure for widening the eligibility criteria of a proposed screening programme should be anticipated and any related decisions scientifically justifiable. A literature review was conducted to examine whether MRSA screening in Scotland should be expanded to include the routine screening of healthcare workers (HCWs). There are no published prevalence studies reporting the overall MRSA carriage rate in HCWs in NHS hospitals. Estimates of HCW carriage from the worldwide literature vary widely depending on the country, hospital specialty and setting (endemic, non-endemic or outbreak). Recent studies conducted in endemic hospital settings report non-outbreak carriage rates of 0–15%. The role of HCW carriage in the transmission of MRSA is not well understood. Persistent carriage could act as a reservoir for infection and HCWs have been implicated as the source in a number of published outbreak reports. There are no published controlled trials examining the impact of routine HCW screening as an intervention in the prevention and control of MRSA infections in the endemic hospital setting. Most of the evidence for HCW screening comes from outbreak reports where the outbreak was brought to an end following the introduction of staff screening as part of a suite of infection control measures. Further research is required before a recommendation could be made to introduce routine MRSA screening of HCWs in the NHS in Scotland.

This article was published in The Journal of Hospital Infection and referenced in Occupational Medicine & Health Affairs

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