Eradication of nasal colonization with S. aureus associated with a decrease in postoperative surgical-site infections

Nasal carriers of Staphylococcus aureus are at increased risk for health care–associated infections with this organism.

Eradication of colonization with S. aureus by screening at admission and subsequent decolonization (with intranasal mupirocin and chlorhexidine skin washes) were associated with a decrease in postoperative surgical-site infections.

In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, S. aureus nasal carriers were treated with mupirocin nasal ointment and chlorhexidine soap.

A total of 6771 patients were screened on admission, 1270 nasal swabs from 1251 patients were positive for S. aureus. All the S. aureus strains identified on PCR assay were susceptible to methicillin and mupirocin.

The rate of S. aureus infection was 3.4% in the mupirocin–chlorhexidine group, as compared with 7.7% in the placebo group (relative risk of infection, 0.42). The effect of mupirocin–chlorhexidine treatment was most pronounced for deep surgical-site infections (relative risk, 0.21).

Preventing Surgical-Site Infections in Nasal Carriers of Staphylococcus aureus. NEJM, 1/2009.
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