February 18, 2015
Major and Classification
- Michael Nichol, Ph.D.
- USC School of Pharmacy
MRSA Prevention, Practice, and Policy: A Case Study Approach
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a bacterium that is often acquired in the hospital setting and is of increasing burden, particularly among vulnerable patients such as those with compromised immune systems or those who have invasive procedures performed such as surgery. It represents not only a patient safety issue due to its increasing antibiotic-resistance, but a public health concern with approximately 19,000 deaths occurring per year from infection. Furthermore, it is a financial problem for the healthcare field as well due to the estimated $3 billion in excess costs it accounts for in healthcare spending. My research looked to explore what the current prevention and treatment methods are for those infected with MRSA, with an emphasis on nosocomial acquisition. Specifically, the focus was on what particular guidelines are in place for those methods, as well as to examine potential policy recommendations. A literature review of current research and healthcare practices was created and health care professionals were interviewed for their experiences in dealing with this issue. Mandates such as California Senate Bill 1058 (also known as Nile’s Law) and the Center for Medicare/Medicaid Services ‘No Pay Policy’ for hospital acquired infections were found to have a significant impact on how patients with MRSA are treated and they were not necessarily positive. The most promising policy seemed to be the REDUCE MRSA Trial in which universal treatment methods were explored and found to be more effective when compared to many current policies such as targeted treatment. The findings of my research lead one to believe that hospital-acquired MRSA may be better handled through the implementation of new policies, yet there is no perfect solution either. The insight provided through this case study approach may be valuable in understanding future plans regarding MRSA policy and demonstrate transferability to other cases of hospital-acquired infections that exhibit antibiotic resistance.