Rapid Detection of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus in BAL: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial

Joseph R. Paonessa, Raj D. Shah, Chiagozie I. Pickens, Bryan D. Lizza, Helen K. Donnelly, Michael Malczynski, Chao Qi, Richard G. Wunderink*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Background: Guidelines recommend empirical vancomycin or linezolid for patients with suspected pneumonia at risk for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Unneeded vancomycin or linezolid use may unnecessarily alter host flora and expose patients to toxicity. We therefore sought to determine if rapid testing for MRSA in BAL can safely decrease use of vancomycin or linezolid for suspected MRSA pneumonia. Methods: Operating characteristics of the assay were initially validated against culture on residual BAL. A prospective, unblinded, randomized clinical trial to assess the effect of antibiotic management made on the basis of rapid diagnostic testing (RDT) compared with usual care was subsequently conducted, with primary outcome of duration of vancomycin or linezolid administration. Secondary end points focused on safety. Results: Sensitivity of RPCR was 95.7%, with a negative likelihood ratio of 0.04 for MRSA. The clinical trial randomized 45 patients: 22 to antibiotic management made on the basis of RDT and 23 to usual care. Duration of vancomycin or linezolid administration was significantly reduced in the intervention group (32 h [interquartile range, 22-48] vs 72 h [interquartile range, 50-113], P <.001). Proportions with complications and length of stay trended lower in the intervention group. Hospital mortality was 13.6% in the intervention group and 39.1% for usual care (95% CI of difference, –3.3 to 50.3, P =.06). Standardized mortality ratio was 0.48 for the intervention group and 1.18 for usual care. Conclusions: A highly sensitive BAL RDT for MRSA significantly reduced use of vancomycin and linezolid in ventilated patients with suspected pneumonia. Management made on the basis of RDT had no adverse effects, with a trend to lower hospital mortality. Trial Registry: ClinicalTrials.gov; No. NCT02660554; URL: www.clinicaltrials.gov.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)999-1007
Number of pages9
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2019


  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • antibiotic stewardship
  • diagnostic testing
  • methicillin-resistance
  • polymerase chain reaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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