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Use of MRSA surveillance data for infection control: individual units rather than entire hospital as the basis for improvement

Introduction / objectives

To analyze which surveillance system (a hospital based or a unit based) leads to a greater decrease in incidence density of nosocomial MRSA.


Two cohort studies of surveillance data.


Two MRSA surveillance components exist within the German national nosocomial infection surveillance system KISS: one for the whole hospital (i.e. only hospital based data and no rates for individual units) and one for ICU-based data (rates for each individual ICU).


Data from a total of 224 hospitals and 359 ICUs in the period from 2004 to 2009.


Development over time was described first for both surveillance systems. In a second step only data were analyzed from those hospitals/ICUs with continuous participation for at least four years. Incidence rate ratios (IRR) with 95% confidence intervals were calculated to compare incidence densities between different time intervals.


In the baseline year the mean MRSA incidence density of hospital acquired MRSA cases was 0.25 and the mean incidence density of ICU-acquired MRSA was 1.25 per 1000 patient days. No decrease in hospital-acquired MRSA rates was found in a total of 111 hospitals with continuous participation in the hospital- based system. However, in 159 ICUs with continuous participation in the unit-based system, a significant decrease of 29 % in ICU-acquired MRSA was identified.


A unit-based approach of surveillance and feedback seems to be more successful in decreasing nosocomial MRSA rates, compared to a hospital-based approach.

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None declared.

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This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Gastmeier, P., Schwab, F., Chaberny, I. et al. Use of MRSA surveillance data for infection control: individual units rather than entire hospital as the basis for improvement. BMC Proc 5 (Suppl 6), P13 (2011).

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  • Surveillance System
  • Surveillance Data
  • Incidence Rate Ratio
  • Individual Unit
  • Incidence Density