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December 1989

What's in a Name? Is Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Just Another S aureus When Treated With Vancomycin?

Author Affiliations

From the US Army Institute of Surgical Research, Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Tex.

Arch Surg. 1989;124(12):1456-1459. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1989.01410120106020

• Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strains, principally resistant to penicillinase-resistant penicillins and aminoglycosides, are increasingly common hospital isolates. We have examined the significance of MRSA colonization and infection in 1100 consecutively admitted, seriously burned patients in whom vancomycin was used to treat all staphylococcal infections. Colonization with S aureus (SA) was identified in 658 patients, in 319 of whom MRSA colonization was identified. Two hundred fifty-three SA infections occurred in 178 patients; of these infections, 58% were pulmonic and 38% were bacteremic. Methicillin-resistant SA infections occurred in 58 of the SA-infected patients. A severity index, based on multiple-regression analysis of mortality as a function of burn size and age in the study population, was used to estimate expected mortality. We demonstrated no measurable increase in mortality attributable to MRSA in this population of burned, SA-infected patients. The results question the clinical and economic value of added control practices, such as closing of units, refusal of transfer or admission, added isolation, treatment of carriers, furlough of colonized staff, and other expensive measures that are specifically directed at prevention of MRSA infections in critical care areas.

(Arch Surg. 1989;124:1456-1459)

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