Predictive Value of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Nasal Swab PCR Assay for MRSA Infection in Critically Ill Pediatric Patients

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society








antimicrobial stewardship; critical care; methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus; predictive value of tests


BACKGROUND: Critically ill pediatric patients are frequently initiated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) active antibiotics during infection evaluation even though MRSA infections are rare in many patient populations. The MRSA nasal swab polymerase chain reaction assay (MRSA-NS-PCR) is a test that has been shown to have a high negative predictive value (NPV) for MRSA infection in adults. This study evaluated the diagnostic test characteristics of the MRSA-NS-PCR in predicting the presence of MRSA infection in critically ill pediatric patients. STUDY DESIGN: A retrospective cohort study was performed in a 44-bed pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) between 2013 and 2017. 3860 pediatric patients (54% male, median age 4 years [IQR 1-11 years]) admitted to the PICU who met pediatric systemic inflammatory response syndrome (pSIRS) criteria, were screened with a MRSA-NS-PCR, and had cultures obtained within seven days of MRSA-NS-PCR collection were included. Predictive values and post-test probabilities of the MRSA-NS-PCR for MRSA infection were calculated. RESULTS: MRSA-NS-PCR was positive in 8.6% of patients. MRSA infection was identified in 40 patients, equaling an incidence rate of 2 per 1000 patient days. The MRSA-NS-PCR demonstrated a positive predictive value (PPV) of 9.7%, a NPV of 99.8%, and a post-test probability for a negative test of 0.2% for MRSA infection. CONCLUSIONS: The MRSA-NS-PCR has a poor PPV but a high NPV for MRSA infection in PICU patients when the incidence of MRSA infection is low. Creation of protocols to guide antimicrobial selection based on MRSA-NS-PCR results may lead to improved antimicrobial stewardship and significant risk reduction.