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Rapid MRSA Testing: A Major Tool for MRSA Infections

February 14, 2020

cawleyAs hospital clinicians, we deal with infection on a daily basis from identification, to infection control measures for the patient, drug therapy selection, and monitoring. In every hospital system, you have an ebb and flow of infectious organisms that may be encountered in a certain area of the hospital or a particular time of the year. In any event, we must identify patients as quick as possible with life-threatening infections to eliminate spread and potential serious adverse events.

Infectious pathogen identification is a laborious process taking days to identify a potential pathogen. Within the time of waiting if a patient’s culture is positive, health care providers who utilize poor infection control practices may spread the pathogen to other patients. Time to diagnosis is paramount and rapid diagnostic testing is a tool that has enormous benefit to clinicians and patients.

The FDA has recently approved a new diagnostic test cobas vivoDx MRSA (Roche Molecular Systems) to detect MRSA infections. The test allows the health care professionals to detect MRSA from nasal swab samples in about 5 hours compared to 24-48 hours with traditional culture-based techniques. Data has shown that the cobas vivoDx MRSA test correctly identified MRSA in approximately 90% of samples with MRSA present and correctly identified no MRSA in 98.6% of samples. 1

I believe this rapid diagnostic test has enormous potential for use. Studies should evaluate outcomes of using these tools compared to traditional culture-based technique on infection avoidance, antibiotic avoidance and deescalating of empiric antibiotic MRSA treatment.

Over time in using these products, we will surely determine their true impact on identifying and treating patients with MRSA infections.

Michael J. Cawley, PharmD, RRT, CPFT, FCCM, is a professor of clinical pharmacy at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, University of the Sciences. He has more than 25 years of experience practicing in the areas of medical, surgical, trauma, and burn intensive care as both a critical care clinical pharmacist and registered respiratory therapist.


  1. MPR. Diagnostic test for rapid MRSA detection gets market clearance. Accessed December 9, 2019.
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