Evaluating Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Polymerase Chain Reaction Nasal Screening as a Tool for Antimicrobial Stewardship

Published:December 12, 2022DOI:



      Initiation of broad-spectrum empiric antibiotics is common when infection is suspected in hospitalized adults. The benefits of early utilization of effective antibiotics are well documented. However, the negative effects of inappropriate antibiotic use have led to antimicrobial stewardship mandates. Recent data demonstrate the utility of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) polymerase chain reaction (PCR) nasal screening to steward anti-MRSA empiric antibiotics in pneumonia. We hypothesize that MRSA PCR nasal swabs would also be effective to rule out other MRSA infection to effectively limit unnecessary antibiotics for any infectious source.


      We performed a single-center retrospective chart review of all adult patient encounters from October 2019-July 2021 with MRSA PCR nasal testing. We then reviewed all charts to evaluate for the presence of infections based on source cultures results, as the gold standard. Sensitivity, specificity, negative predictive value, and positive predictive value were calculated from 2 × 2 contingency tables.


      Among all patients with MRSA nasal screening, 1189 patients had any infection. Prevalence of MRSA nasal carriage among patients screened was 12%. Prevalence of MRSA infection among all infections was 7.5%. MRSA nasal swabs demonstrated a negative predictive value of 100% for MRSA urinary tract infection, 97.9% for MRSA bacteremia, 97.8% for MRSA pneumonia, 92.1% for MRSA wound infection, and 96.6% for other MRSA infections. Overall, MRSA PCR nasal swabs had a sensitivity of 68.5%, specificity of 90.1%, positive predictive value of 23.7%, and negative predictive value of 98.5% for any infections.


      MRSA PCR nasal swabs have a high negative predictive value for all infections. Our data support the use of MRSA PCR nasal swabs to rule out MRSA infection and thereby allow early de-escalation of MRSA coverage in hospitalized patients requiring empiric antibiotics. Implementation of MRSA screening could decrease antibiotic-associated morbidity, resistance, and costs. More studies should be conducted to validate these results and support these findings.


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