According to data presented at the 50th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy in Boston, for hospitalized patients, colonization with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is associated with a high mortality rate. Among those who are MRSA colonized, patients who are hospitalized with a MRSA infection have even higher overall mortality. The research stems from a 2007 directive by the Veterans Health Administration to reduce the transmission of MRSA in the acute care setting of Veterans Affairs hospitals by means of active surveillance through nasal screening, contact precaution isolation, and hand hygiene. Consequently, researchers at the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center examined mortality rates for patients who were hospitalized with MRSA infections and nasally colonized with MRSA, compared with patients who were only colonized with MRSA, from October 2007 through July 2009. During that period, 741 hospitalized patients had MRSA colonization. Of these, 183 had MRSA infection on admission. The overall mortality rate for all hospitalizations (N=21,689) during this period was 474 (2.2%). The overall mortality rate for colonized patients who were hospitalized with MRSA infection (n=183) was 38%. That figure was significantly higher than that for MRSA-colonized patients who were hospitalized without MRSA infection (n=148) (26.5% of 558, P<0.001). According to the researchers, the presence of MRSA infection at admission appears to influence early mortality. Further, MRSA colonization may be a marker for other comorbidities associated with death. The study was titled "Mortality Among Patients Hospitalized with MRSA Infection and/or Colonization." It was conducted by researchers led by Robert P. Gaynes, MD, associate professor of medicine at Emory University in Atlanta and a physician at the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Dr. Gaynes has written frequently on nosocomial infection and antibiotic resistance.