MRSA and Hospital-Acquired Infections
Healthcare-associated infections, commonly known as HAI’s, are a serious global public health concern. Within Canada, more than 220,000 healthcare-associated infections occur every year. HAIs are responsible for significantly increasing patient morbidity and mortality, and are associated with an estimated 10,000 deaths each year. Economic studies in hospitals have shown that HAI’s caused by the bacteria methicillin-resistant S. aureus add on average $35,000 to the cost of a hospital stay.
Surgical site infections are a major subset of HAI’s. In addition to the obvious threat to life and extended patient suffering, surgical site infections add significant costs to patient care. While a minor post-surgical infection may add $5,000-$10,000, surgical site infections after major procedures (e.g. orthopedic or cardiac) increase the patient cost of care by well over $100,000 per case. With these numbers, it’s easy to see how even hospitals with relatively low infection rates can lose millions of dollars every year to surgical site infections.
S. aureus is by far the leading cause of surgical site infections which can lead to potentially deadly bacteraemias. The emergence of antibiotic resistant strains of S. aureus, such as MRSA, have limited the utility of traditional antibiotic therapies and made an already serious problem much worse. In fact, MRSA was recently acknowledged by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a bigger killer than AIDS.