Infection Control Guidance: Preventing Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in Healthcare Facilities

At a glance

  • Progress to reduce MRSA infections in healthcare facilities has slowed.
  • More action by healthcare facilities can prevent more MRSA infections.
  • CDC recommends Contact Precautions for patients with MRSA.

Recommendation details

CDC works with partners to identify and evaluate other measures to decrease the transmission of multidrug-resistant organisms (MDROs) in healthcare settings.

  • Make prevention of MRSA infections a priority.
  • Assess relevant data.
  • Implement prevention actions.
  • Evaluate progress.

  • Follow current prevention recommendations for device- and procedure-related infections.
  • Treat infections properly and rapidly if they occur.
  • Educate patients about ways to avoid infection and spread.
  • Warn patients about early signs of sepsis.
  • Clean hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before and after caring for every patient.
  • Carefully clean and disinfect hospital rooms and medical equipment.
  • Follow Contact Precautions when caring for patients with MRSA (colonized or carrying and infected) [see below].

MRSA remains an important healthcare pathogen. The prevention of MRSA infections is a priority for CDC. CDC estimates that MRSA is responsible for more than 70,000 severe infections and 9,000 deaths per year.

CDC recommends the use of Contact Precautions in inpatient acute care settings for patients colonized or infected with MDROs, including MRSA.

In 2022, the United States showed progress in preventing several important healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) in acute care hospitals (ACHs). ACHs observed 16% decrease in hospital-onset methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteremia, according to data from the National Healthcare Safety Network.

Interventions like Contact Precautions and hand hygiene, both designed to reduce device- and procedure-associated infections and transmissions, have contributed to the decreases. The contribution of Contact Precautions in comparison to other interventions is unknown.

In recent years, more than a dozen studies, article reviews and editorials have sought to address whether Contact Precautions should be recommended for endemic MDROs like MRSA. The impact of discontinuing Contact Precautions for MRSA-colonized or infected patients has been assessed in single-center studies using lower quality quasi-experimental designs. These studies have not identified changes in MRSA infection or acquisition rates. They likely underestimate the impact of discontinuing Contact Precautions including the effect on downstream adverse events such as post-discharge infections.

Based on the current evidence, CDC recommends the use of Contact Precautions for MRSA-colonized or infected patients. CDC continues to evaluate the evidence on Contact Precautions as it becomes available. CDC also continues to work with partners to identify and evaluate other measures to decrease transmission of MDROs in healthcare settings.

What to do‎

If a MRSA outbreak occurs, contact your facility's infection prevention department or local/state health department.


Prevention strategies

Prevention guidelines

New Strategies to Prevent MRSA Infections in Your Hospital: Interactive Case

Healthcare providers can complete this case scenario to test their knowledge of prevention strategies to protect patients from serious staph infections.