Clinical utility of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus nasal PCR to streamline antimicrobial use in treatment of diabetic foot infection with or without osteomyelitis

Gaielle Harb, Teri Hopkins, Linda Yang, Kathleen Morneau, Jose Cadena-Zuluaga, Elizabeth Walter, Christopher Frei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Background: Diabetic Foot Infection (DFI) guidelines recommend empiric methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)-targeted therapy in settings where there is high prevalence of MRSA infections or in cases of severe infection; however, they do not provide recommendations for de-escalation. This approach has the potential to increase unnecessary use of broad-spectrum antibiotics; therefore, additional strategies are needed to optimize appropriate antibiotic use. This study evaluates the effect of MRSA nasal PCR testing on MRSA-targeted antibiotic use and clinical outcomes in patients with DFI. Methods: This was a retrospective quasi-experimental study of patients admitted to South Texas Veterans Health Care System for DFI, with or without osteomyelitis (OM), who had an MRSA nasal PCR and culture data. Eligible patients were identified from the Corporate Data Warehouse and reviewed via electronic health record. Patients were allocated into two groups: PRE (5/1/2019-4/30/2020) and POST (12/1/2020-11/30/2021) protocol implementation for de-escalation or avoidance of MRSA-targeted antibiotics. The primary outcome was median (interquartile range [IQR]) hours of empiric inpatient MRSA-targeted antibiotic therapy. A Wilcoxon Rank Sum test was used to assess the difference between the groups for the primary outcome. Secondary outcomes included the proportion of patients needing MRSA coverage added back for MRSA after de-escalation, hospital readmission, length of hospital stay (LOS), patient mortality, and acute kidney injury. Results: A total of 151 patients were included (83 PRE; 68 POST). Most patients were male (98% PRE; 97% POST) with a median age of 64 (IQR, 56–72) years. Incidence of MRSA in DFI in the cohort was 14.7% overall (12% PRE and 17.6% POST). MRSA was detected via nasal PCR in 12% of patients 15.7% PRE and 7.4% POST). After protocol implementation, there was a significant decrease in empiric MRSA-targeted antibiotic therapy use, from a median of 72 (IQR, 27–120) hours in the PRE group, to 24 (IQR, 12–72) hours in the POST group (p < 0.01). No significant differences were found for other secondary outcomes. Conclusion: This study of patients presenting to a Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital with DFI identified a statistically significant decrease in median duration of MRSA-targeted antibiotic use post-protocol implementation. This suggests a favorable effect of MRSA nasal PCR for de-escalation or avoidance of MRSA-targeted antibiotics in DFI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number297
JournalBMC Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Antibacterial agents
  • Diabetic foot
  • Drug utilization
  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
  • Polymerase chain reaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases


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