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Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus: a questionnaire survey of 75 long-term care facilities in western New York

J M Mylotte, J Karuza, D W Bentley
Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology 1992, 13 (12): 711-8
1289398

OBJECTIVES: To determine the frequency of recognition of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) as an infection control problem and its prevalence among long-term care facilities, and to evaluate whether certain long-term care facility characteristics such as bed size, ownership, level of infection control activity, and frequency of resident transfers to acute care hospitals are related to the recognition or prevalence of MRSA in this setting.

DESIGN: Questionnaire survey.

SETTING: Seventy-five long-term care facilities in the 8 counties of western New York.

RESULTS: Seventy-five of 81 (92.6%) long-term care facilities returned a completed questionnaire. Seventy-nine percent were considered to have a "limited" level of infection control activity (part-time infection control practitioner who spent less than 10 hours a week on infection control activities). The larger the long-term care facility, the more time was spent on infection control activities (p = .01). Seventy-two percent of the long-term care facilities screened new admissions for MRSA by reviewing culture reports; 69% of the long-term care facilities had a specific infection control policy for MRSA. Sixteen of the 75 (21%) facilities felt they had an infection control problem with MRSA. By univariate analysis, the only characteristic significantly associated with this recognition was use of nurse practitioners or physician assistants by a facility (p < .05). Eighty-one percent of the 75 long-term care facilities had identified one or more patients with MRSA in the year prior to the survey. By univariate analysis, the only characteristics that were significantly associated with the number of residents with MRSA were the monthly average number of residents transferred to acute care facilities (p = .034) and facility bed size (p = .022); there was also a trend toward increasing intensity of infection control activities (p = .085). However, facility bed size and the average number of resident transfers per month to acute care facilities were strongly associated (p = .0002). By stepwise logistic regression analysis, only bed size was an independent predictor of the number of residents with MRSA. Many long-term care facilities had tried to eradicate MRSA; ciprofloxacin was most commonly used to eradicate MRSA.

CONCLUSIONS: The vast majority of the 75 long-term care facilities in the 8 counties of western New York have identified patients with MRSA, although only a minority (21%) of them actually believed that an infection control problem existed. Facility size (a surrogate for the monthly average number of resident transfers to acute care facilities) seems to be an important factor in determining the number of residents with MRSA in long-term care facilities in our geographic region. The major longitudinal studies of MRSA in such facilities have so far been done only in Veterans Affairs facilities. Further studies are needed in freestanding long-term care facilities, the largest group of long-term care facilities in the United States, to determine the epidemiology of MRSA in this setting and to develop practical and valid infection control methods for residents with MRSA.

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