Ventilator-Associated Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) Pneumonia in a Patient with a Negative MRSA Nasal Swab

Michael Kalinoski, Nicholas E. Ingraham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) pneumonia is associated with high morbidity and mortality. Recently, MRSA testing by nasal swab has been utilized to “exclude” pneumonia caused by MRSA, given its high negative-predictive value (NPV). We present, however, a case of MRSA pneumonia diagnosed by endotracheal aspirate culture (EAC) in a patient with a negative MRSA nasal swab. Case Report: A 58-year-old woman presented with septic shock and respiratory failure. Chest X-ray (CXR) on admission was unrevealing; however, computed tomography (CT) revealed multifocal pneumonia. Intensive Care Unit (ICU)-level care was required for mechanical ventilation and vasopressors. She initially improved with treatment of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) and was extubated on hospital day 6; however, she then developed a fever, tachycardia, and respiratory distress necessitating re-intubation later that day. Repeat CXR demonstrated a new left lower lobe infiltrate. Blood cultures were drawn and vancomycin and cefepime were started to cover for ventilator-associated pathogens. An EAC and nasal swab were collected to test for MRSA. The next day (day 7), the MRSA nasal swab returned negative, and vancomycin was discontinued. Our patient continued to experience fevers, worsening leukocytosis, and ongoing vasopressor need. On hospital day 9, the EAC results were obtained, and were positive for MRSA. Vancomycin was restarted and our patient recovered. Conclusions: Negative MRSA nasal screening may be considered grounds to de-escalate empiric MRSA antibiotics if MRSA prevalence is low. However, in critically ill patients with high risk and suspicion for MRSA pneumonia, discontinuing empiric MRSA coverage should be done with caution or clinicians should wait until respiratory culture results are obtained before de-escalating antibiotics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere941088
JournalAmerican Journal of Case Reports
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Am J Case Rep, 2023.


  • Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus
  • Pneumonia, Staphylococcal
  • Pneumonia, Ventilator-Associated

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Journal Article


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