BackgroundMethicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is an opportunistic bacterial organism resistant to first line antibiotics. Acquisition of MRSA is often classified as either healthcare-associated or community-acquired. It has been shown that both healthcare-associated and community-acquired infections contribute to the spread of MRSA within healthcare facilities. The objective of this study was to estimate the incremental inpatient cost and length of stay for individuals colonized or infected with MRSA. Common analytical methods were compared to ensure the quality of the estimate generated. This study was performed at Alberta Ministry of Health (Edmonton, Alberta), with access to clinical MRSA data collected at two Edmonton hospitals, and ministerial administrative data holdings.MethodsA retrospective cohort study of patients with MRSA was identified using a provincial infection prevention and control database. A coarsened exact matching algorithm, and two regression models (semilogarithmic ordinary least squares model and log linked generalized linear model) were evaluated. A MRSA-free cohort from the same facilities and care units was identified for the matched method; all records were used for the regression models. Records span from January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2015, for individuals 18 or older at discharge.ResultsOf the models evaluated, the generalized linear model was found to perform the best. Based on this model, the incremental inpatient costs associated with hospital-acquired cases were the most costly at $31,686 (14,169 – 60,158) and $47,016 (23,125 – 86,332) for colonization and infection, respectively. Community-acquired MRSA cases also represent a significant burden, with incremental inpatient costs of $7397 (2924 – 13,180) and $14,847 (8445 – 23,207) for colonization and infection, respectively. All costs are adjusted to 2016 Canadian dollars. Incremental length of stay followed a similar pattern, where hospital-acquired infections had the longest incremental stays of 35.2 (16.3–69.5) days and community-acquired colonization had the shortest incremental stays of 3.0 (0.6–6.3) days.ConclusionsMRSA, and in particular, hospital-acquired MRSA, places a significant but preventable cost burden on the Alberta healthcare system. Estimates of cost and length of stay varied by the method of analysis and source of infection, highlighting the importance of selecting the most appropriate method.