Executive Summary – MRSA Atlas
Mapping the “Super Bug”

Resource for the Front Lines

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study, published in 2007, estimated that there were more than 94,000 infections by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in the United States in 2005.[1] Infections varied by race/ethnicity, age, and gender, as well as geographically. In addition, published research indicates that invasive methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections affect certain populations disproportionately as well as geographically. The elderly, blacks, and males are reported to have higher incidence of MRSA than the general population. As the epidemiology of infections with MRSA changes, a resource that can provide accurate information on the magnitude of MRSA infections in the US population is needed.

The introduction of the MRSA Atlas is designed to provide stakeholders and policymakers with a resource for estimating and mapping the number of hospital discharges associated with a primary or secondary diagnosis of MRSA (ICD-9-CM code V09.0) for every county in the United States. The data are derived from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) State Inpatient Database for 2006, state health departments, or from state synthetic estimates based on the national statistics for all stays through HCUPnet for 2006. For HCUP sourced data, zip code level estimates to determine the number of hospital discharges were calculated and mapped; further segmented by age (0–64; 65 years of age and older), gender, and race/ethnicity.

Key Findings

1. R. M. Klevens, M. A. Morrison, J. &#Nadle, S. Petit, K. Gershman, S. Ray, L. H. Harrison, R. Lynfield, G Dumyati, J. M. Townes, A. S. Craig, E. R. Zell, G. E. Fosheim, L. K. McDougal, R. B. Carey, S. K. Fridkin, and Active Bacterial Core surveillance (ABCs) MRSA Investigators, "Invasive Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Infections in the United States," JAMA 298, no. 15 (2007): 1763–1771.

The Cost of MRSA

Reducing the incidence of MRSA in these communities has important economic ramifications as well. Costs associated with Staphylococcus aureus bloodstream infections for Medicare patients exceeded $2.5 billion in 2005. Hospital stays for MRSA infection have more than tripled since 2000, and have increased nearly ten-fold since 1995. Even if the infection does not require hospitalization, the prescription drug costs alone can average $1,000 for a ten-day regimen. Perhaps the most unnerving reality of MRSA is that, regardless of whether it is healthcare-associated or community-acquired, MRSA infections are largely preventable by improving the quality of the health care that is provided in hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities.

Objectives of the MRSA-QILC

To address the national problem of MRSA infections, the Forum is launching the MRSA Quality Improvement Learning Community (MRSA-QILC) to create an integrated framework for federal, state and local initiatives that are designed to prevent and/or reduce amenable morbidity and mortality linked to MRSA infections. Among its important objectives are:

  • To increase support for the HHS Action Plan to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections as it relates specifically to achieving targets associated with Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) infection. (HHS-APPHAI).
  • To facilitate implementation of the MRSA components of the state plans that were submitted to CDC.
  • To increase knowledge and awareness of key messages and prevention practices among providers, consumers, the media, and the general public. (HHS-APPHAI)
  • To provide data and resources to support physician education efforts of National, State, and Local medical societies.
  • To sponsor discussion forums about the MRSA challenge and effective health care and community interventions among elected officials, the leadership of state and local medical societies, hospital and health facility administrators, and key opinion leaders of affected communities.
  • To increase awareness of community-specific incidence of MRSA in targeted geographic areas and to facilitate constructive collaborations around community-specific solutions.
  • To increase knowledge and use of clinical guidelines for MRSA screening, prevention and treatment in both health care and community settings.
  • To monitor, analyze and disseminate findings on community-specific MRSA reduction initiatives in targeted communities.



The National Minority Quality Forum has developed the MRSA atlas to enable users to map MRSA prevalence based on the number of hospital discharges -- at the national, state, congressional and state legislative district level. The MRSA atlas can be used to raise awareness in high impact areas and tailor prevention and treatment efforts to that particular locale.

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