Hospital germs: MRSA examination in Saarland

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MRSA screening

Hospital germs: Before patients are admitted to a clinic, a comprehensive MRSA examination is carried out in Saarland.


In Saarland, the first results of a comprehensive MRSA screening were presented, in which every patient who was admitted to a clinic was examined for the multi-resistant staphylococcal strains.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are relatively widespread, especially in hospitals, and repeatedly lead to dangerous infections, which in the worst case can cause life-threatening diseases such as pneumonia, inflammation of the inner skin of the heart (endocarditis) or blood poisoning (sepsis). For this reason, the Saarland MRSAar network initiated a nationwide screening in October, in which every patient was automatically examined for MRSA when being admitted to a clinic. Since then, more than 20,000 patients have been examined for MRSA during their hospital admission and the first data have now been presented to the public at the University Hospital in Homburg. Around every fiftieth patient carries the pathogens into the hospital.

According to those responsible for the university clinic, the first-ever admission prevalence screening of this kind to spread MRSA, the methodology for determining dangerous hospital germs had been considerably improved. For the first time in the investigation period, all Saarland clinics followed a uniform procedure and a so-called WASP® robot was used for the analysis, which processed the additional microbiological samples in an automated process. The use of the "Walk-Away Specimen Processor" (WASP) to create the microbiological samples was a novelty across Germany and automated a process that was previously only possible by hand. With their findings, the researchers at Saarland University Hospital also hope to contribute to the discussion about the general standards of hospital hygiene.

The data available to date from the nationwide study shows that 405 of the 20,000 patients examined (2.02 percent) carried MRSA germs when admitted to Saarland clinics. "The first result shows that we in Saarland do not live in a country of bliss," said Professor Dr. Mathias Herrmann, Director of the Institute for Medical Microbiology and Hygiene at the Saarland University Hospital. In order to record the germ load of the patients, all inpatients were admitted to MRSA by a simple smear examination of the throat and the atria. MRSA pathogens were detected in a total of 392 nasopharyngeal smears and 13 wound smears were also contaminated with the dangerous hospital germs. The Saarland Minister of Health, Georg Weisweiler (FDP) also welcomed the high participation rates, which totaled over 80 percent during the first phase of the examination and even reached well over 90 percent in numerous clinics. "I am therefore very pleased that (...) all hospitals are participating in the investigation without exception. The comprehensive screening gives us the unique opportunity to get an overview of the risk factors and MRSA burdens (…), ”emphasized the Minister of Health. "The simultaneous and uniform procedure of all hospitals for MRSA diagnostics for the duration of the admission prevalence screening will be of great value for the comparability of the results and thus for justified consequences supported by epidemiological data", added Professor Dr. Mathias Herrmann.

MRSA are staphylococcal pathogens that are resistant to all commonly available beta-lactam antibiotics such as penicillin and only respond to treatment with so-called “reserve antibiotics”. MRSA are relatively widespread, especially in hospitals, rehabilitation facilities and nursing homes, and at the same time a major problem here. An extrapolation from the Robert Koch Institute shows that around 132,000 hospital patients across Germany suffered from an MRSA infection in 2008. The experts estimate that around 1,500 people die each year from an MRSA infection. For the Saarland, Professor Dr. Mathias Herrmann, based on the first results of the current screening, concluded: "The figures make it clear that the problem for us is undoubtedly no less than in other areas in Germany, and may even tend to be somewhat larger. At the same time, however, we also learn that we have no reason to panic. ”(Fp)

Also read:
Hospital germs: Staphylococci prefer blood
Infection risk in the hospital
Resistant bacteria in German hospitals

Image: Gerd Altmann /

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