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Minor op MRSA screening 'ineffective'

By Emma Wilkinson

MRSA screening in patients due to have minor surgery in primary care is ineffective and a waste of time and money, an audit shows.

A review by NHS Walsall of 230 patients screened before vasectomy or carpal tunnel surgery found only one patient positive for MRSA – a 0.4% hit rate.

At £3 a test, not including administration and other costs, the researchers said routine screening of all patients was not a good use of resources.

They added that the low prevalence of MRSA seen – the Department of Health cites 3% in the general population – could be due to patients undergoing surgery in primary care being ‘healthier' than those due to have surgery in hospital.

Amanda Beaumont, head of infection prevention and control at NHS Walsall said: ‘The guidance is that we screen but our results show that perhaps a risk assessment approach would be sensible.'

She added that only screening those at high risk, because for example they had recently been in hospital, lived with someone with MRSA or had eczema or other skin conditions, might be a more cost-effective approach.

MRSA screening in patients due to have minor surgery in primary care is ineffective, the review found MRSA screening in patients due to have minor surgery in primary care is ineffective, the review found

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