All MRSA surveillance programs are not created equal

The most expensive program you can have is one that fails.

Studies point to two key parameters that determine the effectiveness of the testing methodology in helping reduce MRSA infection.1,2

MRSA Surveillance
  1. Sensitivity. The test methodology needs to be sufficiently sensitive to minimize the risks associated with false negatives while identifying the majority of colonized patients so that they can be managed to decrease the risk of infection and isolated to prevent spread of the pathogen.
  2. Time to intervention. Experts point to a reporting time of ≤15 hours for identifying and isolating colonized patients.1,2,3

Time to intervention is critical to MRSA surveillance success4-8

How soon is soon enough for MRSA surveillance test results?

Laboratory testing time for currently available molecular methods for MRSA testing is about 1½ to 3 hours. Learn more about the Roche testing solutions.

Stat testing, whereby tests are run on demand and individual results are delivered within 2 hours, is more costly and can be beneficial only if rapid response to each and every incidence of a patient who tests positive for MRSA colonization is possible with the hospital’s current infrastructure and processes.

MRSA Time to Intervention Data

Choosing the test methodology9

MRSA surveillance testing requires an adjustment from thinking in terms of a diagnostic test (focusing on patient management) to thinking in terms of a surveillance test (addressing broader hospital- and health system–wide issues). Assessing and quantifying the impact of surveillance on infection control is critical in determining the surveillance strategy that makes the most sense for an institution.

MRSA Time to Results Testing Efficiency Workflow

Culture vs. Molecular

Culture is a well-established methodology and is used by many labs for MRSA surveillance, in part because it is perceived as inexpensive. However, to achieve a level of sensitivity equivalent to molecular methods using culture, it is necessary to perform an additional enrichment step, which increases cost and delays availability of results.

Laboratories also need to consider factors such as the lower sensitivity of culture (and missed opportunities to manage colonized patients) as well as the longer time to results (and delayed intervention), both of which can decrease the effectiveness of the surveillance program in reducing infection.



  1. Robicsek A, Beaumont JL, Paule SM, et al. Ann Intern Med 2008;148:409-418.
  2. Peterson LR, Diekema DJ. J Clin Microbiol 2010;48:683-689.
  3. Peterson LR, Karchmer T, Tenover FC. N Engl J Med 2011;365:761-762.
  4. Runz T et al. Hyg Med 2010;35:306-314.
  5. Robicsek A. al. Ann Intern Med 2008;148:409-418.
  6. Hardy K et al. Clin Microbiol Infect 2010;16:333-339.
  7. Harbath S et. Al BMJ 2008;336:927-930.
  8. Jeyaratnam D et al. BMJ 2008;336:927-930.
  9. Peterson L, Liesenfeld O, Woods CW et al. J Clin Microbiol 2010;48:1661-1666.