MRSA, or Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is responsible for an estimated 19,000 deaths a year in the U.S. and costs hospitals an additional $60,000 per patient who acquires a MRSA infection in the hospital. In October 2006, APIC conducted the first-ever national MRSA prevalence study and found that 46 out of every 1,000 patients in the study were either infected or colonized with MRSA. The rate was larger than previously estimated and led to several concerted efforts by APIC to combat MRSA. The goal of this year’s survey is to update the study results with the current MRSA prevalence rate. The comparison will help evaluate the impact of recent MRSA prevention measures on MRSA prevalence.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has not yet begun to penalize hospitals with high MRSA infection rates by reducing reimbursement. However, given the current trend that focuses on pay-for-performance, it’s likely that CMS will refuse to pay for preventable MRSA infections in the future.
Therefore, I urge every hospital to participate in this important survey. After all, how do we fight MRSA if we don’t know what kind of problem we are dealing with? The survey results affect the measures and solutions we adopt, the amount of resources we need and receive, the type of care we provide to patients, and the kind of research and innovation that will be necessary to combat the infection.