Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus is probably the most challenging bacterial pathogen that currently affects patients in hospital. Infection caused by this important nosocomoial bacterium has become a serious and national and global problem (DOH 2002). Pharmacologic innovations can barely keep pace with the development of drug resistance among strains of bacteria. MRSA infections can lead to death, predominantly in hospitalized, debilitated patients. Health care providers may be confused about the contagion and transmission of this pathogen. Particularly in hospital settings, nurses must be knowledgeable about the epidemiology of MRSA to prevent its spread.
MRSA has become a commonly encountered pathogen in the clinical setting. It causes severe morbidity and mortality worldwide, with death rates in patients with MRSA infection ranging from 20% to 50% (Blot, Vandewoude, Hoste, & Colardyn, 2002). MRSA is primarily a nosocomial microbe. Hospital-acquired infections are rising, particularly in intensive care units (ICUs) across the world.
In 1992, a large European multi-center research study found that MRSA accounted for 57% of all ICU-acquired S. aureus infections (Vincent et al., 1995). In U.S. hospitals, current estimates of the prevalence of methicillin resistance among S. aureus infections are 40% to 50% (Chambers, 2001; Fridkin & Gaynes, 1999).
Spreading easily from patient to patient, MRSA infection also poses a problem for nursing homes. MRSA has been isolated most often from urinary catheters and gastrostomy tube sites in nursing home patients (Mulhausen, Harrell, Weinberger, Kochersberger, & Feussner, 1996). Patients transferred from long-term care facilities to the hospital often act as nosocomial reservoirs of MRSA. However, the low incidence of MRSA infection in nursing homes indicates that many nursing home residents may be colonized with MRSA and act as carriers. Alarmingly, increasing numbers of community-acquired MRSA infections have been identified for the first time. This is particularly worrisome because...