National guidelines on MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) screening policy in England have changed on a number of occasions, but there is limited data on its influence at a local level. The aim of this study was to determine if changes in National policy influenced preoperative screening of cataract patients for MRSA.
A structured telephone survey was conducted on all 133 ophthalmology units in England in 2004 and again in 2007 for the initial responders, after a change in national policy.
A total of 74 units (56%) responded in 2004 and 71 units (96% of initial respondents) in 2007. In 2004, 57% of units screened for MRSA. They screened groups at high risk of carriage, including patients with previous MRSA (93%) and patients from Nursing homes (21%). Swab sites included the nose (100%), eyes (31%) and perineum (62%). In 2007, there was no significant change in the number of units that screened for MRSA (57% vs 66%; p = 0.118; McNemar test). However, more units screened for MRSA in patients from nursing/residential homes (21% vs 51%; p = 0.004, McNemar test), and in patients who had recent admission to hospital (12% vs 36%; p = 0.003). In the second survey, 3 units (6%) now screened patients who were close relatives of MRSA carriers.
This survey has highlighted inconsistences in MRSA screening practice of day-case cataract surgery patients across England after 2 major national policy changes. A change in DoH policy only led to more units screening patients for MRSA from high risk groups.