Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infection in palliative care

Patricia Joanne Armes, Wendy Prentice, R Dunlop, DE Cunningham, Catherine Lucas, Jennifer Todd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Our objective was to assess the impact of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection in palliative care.

The study was conducted at three hospices in south London, totalling 118 beds, and the following two methods were used. Firstly, a retrospective review of the notes of patients who were known to be MRSA positive at admission or were subsequently found to be MRSA positive was taken. Secondly, a prospective study of factors influencing bed occupancy in one hospice was conducted.

The proportion of admissions who were MRSA positive ranged from 4% to 8% in the three hospices. Seven of the 43 patients who had MRSA suffered clinically significant infections. Risk factors for colonization and bacteraemia were similar to the general population. Sites of infection were variable and multiple and treatment regimes for eradication were variable, with varying outcomes. MRSA infection appeared to delay admission because of the need for single rooms, of which there are few. Time spent cleaning rooms after discharge or death also reduced the number of available beds.

It was concluded that MRSA infection is associated with significant morbidity in a small number of palliative care patients. Beds unavailable because of MRSA should be considered in bed occupancy figures, otherwise bed occupancy may appear artificially low. The psychological and financial impact of the infection in palliative care patients needs further evaluation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-449
JournalPalliative Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1998


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