The optimal method to screen for gastrointestinal colonization with carbapenem-resistant organisms (CRO) has yet to be established. The direct MacConkey (direct MAC) plate method demonstrates high sensitivity for CRO detection, but established zone diameter (ZD) criteria for ertapenem (27 mm) and meropenem (32 mm) result in high rates of false positives upon confirmatory testing. To increase specificity, we screened for CRO in two high-risk wards using the direct MAC plate method, recorded ZDs for each sample, and generated receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves to evaluate the optimal ZD cutoff criteria. Of 6,868 swabs obtained over an 18-month period, 4,766 (69%) had growth on MAC plates, and 2,500 (36%) met criteria for further evaluation based on previously established ZDs around the carbapenem disks. A total of 812 (12%) swabs were confirmed positive for at least one CRO and included 213 (3%) carbapenemase-producing organisms (CPO), resulting in a specificity of 78% for the direct MAC plate method. Reducing the ertapenem and meropenem ZDs to 25 mm improved specificity to 83%, decreasing the confirmatory testing workload by 32%. The sensitivities with the lower ZD criteria were 89% for CRO and 94% for CPO, respectively. The direct MAC plate method criteria for CRO testing can be modified to balance the sensitivity and specificity of CRO while reducing the burden on clinical microbiology laboratories. These modifications can be particularly helpful in regions with a low CRO prevalence.
- Carbapenem-resistant organism
- Direct macconkey plate method
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Microbiology (medical)