Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus: investigation of a hospital outbreak using a case-control study

N Crowcroft, H Maguire, M Fleming, J Peacock, J Thomas

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26 Citations (Scopus)


A retrospective case-control study of 50 MRSA-positive patients was carried out during an outbreak of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) at an acute general hospital in London. Controls were randomly selected from MRSA-negative patients admitted during the outbreak period. Risk factors investigated included length of admission prior to screening, number of ward changes, main diagnosis, extent of staff contact, pressure sores, surgical and other invasive procedures and antibiotic treatment. Outcome variables examined were rates of infection (versus colonization) with MRSA and mortality. Patients with MRSA were in hospital longer before microbiological specimens were taken and moved wards more often than controls. In a logistic regression analysis, length of stay in hospital, pressure sores, physiotherapy and surgical procedures were associated with a significantly increased risk of acquiring MRSA. Odds ratios (and 95% confidence intervals) for having acquired MRSA were: 8.3 (1.02-71.43) if a patient had pressure sores; 3.7 (1.10-12.5) if they received physiotherapy; and 3.2 (1.82-10.0) if they underwent surgical procedures. The rate of clinical infection amongst patients with this strain of MRSA was 26% and included life-threatening infections such as septicaemia, underlining the potential virulence of MRSA. Surgery and physiotherapy may have been markers of debility. Physiotherapy was probably a marker of increased rates of contact with all hospital staff, and high standards of hand hygiene should be promoted amongst all staff as the most important factor in controlling an outbreak of MRSA. Good bed management is essential for hospital infection control.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-9
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Hospital Infection
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1996


  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cross Infection
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Humans
  • Infection Control
  • London
  • Methicillin Resistance
  • Risk Factors
  • Staphylococcal Infections
  • Staphylococcus aureus


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