Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in palliative care

Schmalz, O. et al. Palliative Medicine. Published online: 29 April 2016.
Image source: Milos Kalab – Wellcome Images // CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Image shows enhanced scanning electron micrograph of Staphylococcus aureus

Background: Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is a common organism in hospitals worldwide and is associated with morbidity and mortality. However, little is known about the prevalence in palliative care patients. Furthermore, there is no standardized screening protocol or treatment for patients for whom therapy concentrates on symptom control.

Aim: Examining the prevalence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in palliative care patients as well as the level of morbidity and mortality.

Design: We performed a prospective study where methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus screening was undertaken in 296 consecutive patients within 48 h after admission to our palliative care unit. Medical history was taken, clinical examination was performed, and the Karnofsky Performance Scale and Palliative Prognostic Score were determined. Prevalence of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus was compared to data of general hospital patients.

Results: In total, 281 patients were included in the study having a mean age of 69.7 years (standard deviation = 12.9 years) and an average Karnofsky Performance Scale between 30% and 40%. The mean length of stay was 9.7 days (standard deviation = 7.6 days). A total of 24 patients were methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus positive on the first swab. Median number of swabs was 2. All patients with a negative methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus swab upon admission remained Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus negative in all subsequent swabs.

Conclusion: Our study suggests that the prevalence of Methicillin-resistantS taphylococcus aureus among patients in an in-hospital palliative care unit is much higher than in other patient populations.

Read the abstract here

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