Rapid diagnostic testing of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus carriage at different anatomical sites: costs and benefits of less extensive screening regimens

M. W. M. Wassenberg*, Jan A. J. W. Kluytmans, R. W. Bosboom, A. G. M. Buiting, E. P. M. van Elzakker, W. J. G. Melchers, S. F. T. Thijsen, Annet Troelstra, C.M.J.E. Vandenbroucke-Grauls, C.E. Visser, A. Voss, P. F. G. Wolffs, M. W. H. Wulf, A. van Zwet, G. Ardine de Wit, Marc J. M. Bonten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Multiple body site screening and pre-emptive isolation of patients at risk for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) carriage are considered essential for control of nosocomial spread. The relative importance of extranasal screening when using rapid diagnostic testing (RDT) is unknown. Using data from a multicentre study evaluating BD GeneOhm (TM) MRSA PCR (IDI), Xpert MRSA (GeneXpert) and chromogenic agar, added to conventional cultures, we determined cost-effectiveness assuming isolation measures would have been based on RDT results of different hypothetical screening regimes. Costs per isolation day avoided were calculated for regimes with single or less extensive multiple site RDT, regimes without conventional back-up cultures and when PCR would have been performed with pooling of swabs. Among 1764 patients at risk, MRSA prevalence was 3.3% (n = 59). In all scenarios the negative predictive value is above 98.4%. With back-up cultures of all sites as a reference, the costs per isolation day avoided were (sic)15.19, (sic)30.83 and (sic)45.37 with 'nares only' screening using chromogenic agar, IDI and GeneXpert, respectively, as compared with (sic)19.95, (sic)95.77 and (sic)125.43 per isolation day avoided when all body sites had been screened. Without back-up cultures costs per isolation day avoided using chromogenic agar would range from (sic)9.24 to (sic)76.18 when costs per false-negative RDT range from (sic)5000 up to (sic)50 000; costs for molecular screening methods would be higher in all scenarios evaluated. In conclusion, in a low endemic setting chromogenic agar screening added to multiple site conventional cultures is the most cost-effective MRSA screening strategy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1704-1710
JournalClinical Microbiology and Infection
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011


  • Back-up cultures
  • cost-effectiveness
  • extranasal screening
  • MRSA screening
  • multiple site screening
  • rapid diagnostic testing

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