Friday, July 4, 2014

What is MRSA?

Staphyloccus aureus or staph is a very common germ that about 1 out of every 3 people have on their skin or in their nose. This germ does not cause any problems for most people who have it on their skin. But sometimes it can cause serious infections such as skin or wound infections, pneumonia, or infections of the blood.

Antibiotics are given to kill Staph germs when they cause infections. Some Staph are resistant, meaning they can't be killed by some antibiotics. "Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus" or MRSA is a type of Staph that is resistant to some of the antibiotics that are often used to treat Staph infections.

In the hospital, people who are more likely to get MRSA infections are people who: (1) have other health conditions making them sick (2) have been in the hospital (3) have been treated with antibiotics. People who are healthy and who have not been hospitalized can also get MRSA infections. These infections usually involve the skin. People who have MRSA germs on their skin or who are infected with MRSA may be able to spread the germ to others. MRSA can be passed on to bed linens, bed rails, bathroom fixtures, and other medical equipment. It can spread to other people on contaminated equipment and on the hands of doctors, nurses, or other healthcare providers or visitors.

There are antibiotics that can kill MRSA germs. Some patients with MRSA abscesses may need surgery to drain the infection. Your healthcare provider will determine which treatment is best for you.

To prevent MRSA infections doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers (1) clean their hands with soap and water or an alcohol based hand rub before and after caring for every patient (2) carefully clean hospital rooms and medical equipment (3) use contact precautions when caring for patients with MRSA which means  having patients with MRSA in a private room or share one only with someone else that has MRSA. Also healthcare providers will put on gloves and wear gowns over their clothing while caring for patients with MRSA. Visitors may also be asked to wear a gown and gloves. Also hospital providers and visitors remove their gowns and wash  their hands when leaving the patients room. Patients with MRSA  are asked to remain in their hospital rooms as much as possible. They should not go to common areas such as the gift shop or cafeteria. They may also go to other parts of the hospital for treatments and/or tests.

To help prevent MRSA make sure all healthcare providers clean their hands with soap and water or with alcohol based rub before and after caring for you. If they do not do so please ask them to.

Visitors have a low risk of  getting MRSA while visiting someone that does have it. However to decrease the risk your visitors should (1) clean their hands upon entering and exiting the room and (2) ask a healthcare provider if  the visitor needs to wear gloves and a gown when visiting.

When the resident goes home they need to finish taking the prescribed antibiotic. Avoid sharing personal items, wash and dry your clothes and bed linens in the warmest possible temperatures recommended on the label,, wash hands frequently and tell all healthcare providers that come to the home that you have MRSA.