Evaluation of the timing of MRSA PCR nasal screening: How long can a negative assay be used to rule out MRSA-positive respiratory cultures?

Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2021 Mar 31:zxab109. doi: 10.1093/ajhp/zxab109. Online ahead of print.


PURPOSE: Previous studies indicate that the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) nasal assay for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has a consistently high (>95%) negative predictive value (NPV) in ruling out MRSA pneumonia; however, optimal timing of PCR assay specimen and respiratory culture collection is unclear.

METHODS: A study including 736 patients from a community hospital system was conducted. Patients were included if they had undergone MRSA nasal screening with a PCR assay and had documented positive respiratory culture results.

RESULTS: In the full cohort, the MRSA PCR nasal screen assay was demonstrated to have an NPV of 94.9% (95% confidence interval [CI], 92.8%-96.5%) in ruling out MRSA-positive respiratory cultures. When evaluating the NPV by level of care (ie, where the MRSA PCR nasal assay sample was collected), no significant difference between values for samples collected in an intensive care unit vs medical/surgical units was identified (NPV [95%CI], 94.9% [92.7%-96.6%] vs 95.3% [88.4%-98.7%]).Additionally, NPV remained high with use of both invasive (NPV [95%CI], 96.8% [92.7%-99.0%]) and noninvasive (NPV [95%CI], 94.5% [91.7%-96.2%]) respiratory sampling methods. Finally, when evaluating the effect of time between MRSA PCR nasal screening and respiratory sample collection, we found high NPVs for all evaluated timeframes: within 24 hours, 93.8% (90.1%-96.4%); within 25 to 48 hours, 98.6% (92.7%-100.0%); within 49 hours to 7 days, 95.7% (91.4%-98.3%); within 8 to 14 days, 92.9% (85.1%-97.3%); and after more than 14 days, 95.5% (84.5%-99.4%).

CONCLUSION: We report high NPVs for up to 2 weeks between specimen collections, which allows clinicians to use a negative MRSA PCR nasal screen assay to rule out MRSA pneumonia, potentially leading to decreased exposure to MRSA-active antibiotics.

PMID:33788910 | DOI:10.1093/ajhp/zxab109