Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2021 Jul 21:1-6. doi: 10.1017/ice.2021.272. Online ahead of print.
OBJECTIVE: To estimate the relative risk (RR) of developing methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) or vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE) colonization or infection within 30 days of ambulance transport.
METHODS: We performed a retrospective cohort study of patients with a principal diagnosis of chest pain presenting to our emergency department (ED) over a 4-year period. Patients were included if they presented from and were discharged to nonhealthcare locations without being admitted. Encounters were stratified by arrival mechanism: ambulance versus private vehicle. We performed propensity score matching and multivariable logistic regression to estimate the RR for the primary outcome.
RESULTS: In total, 321,229 patients had ED encounters during the study period. After applying inclusion criteria and propensity score matching, there were 11,324 patients: 3,903 in the ambulance group and 7,421 in the unexposed group. Among them, 12 patients (0.11%) had the outcome of interest, including 9 (0.08%) with MRSA and 3 (0.03%) with VRE. The 30-day prevalence of MRSA or VRE was larger in the ambulance group than in the unexposed group: 8 (0.20%) and 4 (0.05%), respectively (P = .02). Patients who presented to the ED via ambulance were almost 4 times more likely to have MRSA or VRE within 30 days of their encounter (RR, 3.72; 95% CI, 1.09-12.71; P = .04).
CONCLUSIONS: Our cohort study is the first to demonstrate an association between ambulance exposure and pathogen incidence, representing the first step in evaluating medical-transport-associated infection burden to eventually develop interventions to address it.