JAMA Netw Open. 2021 Mar 1;4(3):e210971. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.0971.
IMPORTANCE: The effectiveness and importance of contact precautions for endemic pathogens has long been debated, and their use has broad implications for infection control of other pathogens.
OBJECTIVE: To estimate the association between contact precautions and transmission of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) across US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals.
DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: This retrospective cohort study used mathematical models applied to data from a population-based sample of adults hospitalized in 108 VA acute care hospitals for at least 24 hours from January 1, 2008, to December 31, 2017. Data were analyzed from May 2, 2019, to December 11, 2020.
EXPOSURES: A positive MRSA test result, presumed to indicate contact precautions use according to the VA MRSA Prevention Initiative.
MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: The main outcome was the association between contact precautions and MRSA transmission, defined as the relative transmissibility attributed to contact precautions. A contact precaution effect estimate (<1 indicates a reduction in transmission associated with contact precautions) was estimated for each hospital and then pooled over time and across hospitals using meta-regression.
RESULTS: In this cohort study of 108 VA hospitals, more than 2 million unique individuals had over 5.6 million admissions, of which 14.1% were presumed to have contact precautions with more than 8.4 million MRSA surveillance tests. Pooled estimates found associations between contact precautions and transmission to be stable from 2008 to 2017, with estimated transmission reductions ranging from 43% (95% credible interval [CrI], 38%-48%) to 51% (95% CrI, 46%-55%). Over the entire 10-year study period, contact precautions reduced transmission 47% (95% CrI, 45%-49%), and the intrafacility autocorrelation coefficient estimate was 0.99, suggesting consistent estimates over time within facilities. Larger facilities and those with higher admission screening compliance observed additional reductions in transmission associated with contact precautions (relative rate, 0.84; 95% CI, 0.74-0.96 and 0.74; 95% CI, 0.58-0.96, respectively) compared with smaller facilities and those with lower admission screening compliance. Facilities in the southern US had a smaller transmission reduction attributable to contact precautions (relative rate, 1.14; 95% CI, 1.01-1.28) compared with facilities in other regions in the US.
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: In this cohort study of adults in VA hospitals, transmissibility of MRSA was found to be reduced by approximately 50% among patients with contact precautions. These results provide an explanation for decreasing acquisition rates in VA hospitals since the MRSA Prevention Initiative.