MRSA decolonization reduces postdischarge infections


Background: MRSA carriers are at higher risk of infection and rehospitalization after hospital discharge. Education regarding hygiene, environmental cleaning, and decolonization of MRSA carriers have been used as possible preventive strategies. Decolonization has been effective in reducing surgical-site infections, recurrent skin infections, and infections in ICU. However, there is sparsity of data on the efficacy of routine decolonization of MRSA carriers after hospital discharge.

Study design: Multicenter, randomized, unblinded controlled trial.

Setting: A total of 17 hospitals and seven nursing homes in Southern California.

Synopsis: The study included 2,121 inpatients hospitalized within the previous 30 days and found to be MRSA carriers. Patients were randomized to education only (1,063) or decolonization plus education (1,058), with both groups followed for 12 months after discharge. Decolonization consisted of 4% rinse-off chlorhexidine for daily bathing or showering, 0.12% chlorhexidine mouthwash twice daily, and 2% nasal mupirocin twice daily. The primary outcome was MRSA infection as defined by the CDC. Secondary outcomes included MRSA infection based on clinical judgment, infection from any cause, and infection-related hospitalization. Per protocol analysis showed that MRSA infection occurred in 9.2% in the education group and 6.3% in the decolonization plus education group, with 30% reduction in the risk of infection (HR, 0.70; 95% CI, 0.51-0.99; number needed to treat to prevent one infection, 30). The decolonization group also had a lower hazard of clinically judged infection from any cause (HR, 0.83; 95% CI, 0.70-0.99) and infection-related hospitalization (HR, 0.76; 95% CI, 0.62-0.93).

Limitations of the study include unblinded intervention, missing of milder infections that might not have required hospitalization, and frequent insufficient documentation in charts for events to be deemed infection according to the CDC criteria.

Bottom line: Decolonization of MRSA carriers post discharge may lower MRSA-related infections and infections more than hygiene education alone.

Citation: Huang SS et al. Decolonization to reduce postdischarge infection risk among MRSA carriers. N Eng J Med. 2019;380:638-50.

Dr. Vedamurthy is a hospitalist at Massachusetts General Hospital.

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