Ross Memorial Hospital - Kawartha Lakes
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Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) Fact Sheet

If one of your tests (cultures) shows that you are carrying a germ called Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), staff at the Hospital must take special precautions when taking care of you. The following information will help you understand what MRSA is and why special precautions are required.

What is an antibiotic-resistant germ?
When someone has an infection, antibiotics are medicines that are used to kill the germ (bacteria) causing the infection. The usual antibiotics do not kill an antibiotic resistant germ. If an antibiotic resistant germ causes an infection, then a stronger drug must be used.

What is Staphylococcus Aureus?
About 25% of the population has Staphylococcus Aureus, a bacterium that lives on the skin and in the nose. This is called colonization, and occurs with other bacteria all over our bodies. It does not normally cause a problem. However, staphylococcus aureus can cause infections, such as boils and abscesses. In the hospital, it can cause more serious infections in those patients who are already ill.

What is MRSA?
The usual drug (antibiotic) used to treat infections caused by Staphylococcus Aureus is a penicillin-like antibiotic called Methicillin. Unfortunately, some Staphylococcus Aureus infections are no longer killed by Methicillin and are called Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA). With MRSA, a stronger antibiotic, usually Vancomycin, must be used.

How did I get MRSA?
MRSA can be found in the community and in the hospital setting on people and on their surroundings.

Why are special precautions needed?
Special precautions are needed in order to prevent the spread of this germ to other patients in hospital who are also ill and therefore most likely to develop an infection.

What will be different?
Infection Control personnel will decide whether you need to stay in your room. If you are asked to stay in your room, Infection Control staff will advise your health care providers when and how often you may leave your room. In some cases, visitors may be limited to a few at a time.

You will be taught how to wash your hands with a skin antiseptic. You must always wash your hands after using the toilet and before leaving your room. You will be asked not to touch open sores.

It is very important for all staff and visitors to wash their hands when they come in and when they leave your room. Do not be shy about reminding everyone to wash their hands.

Signs will be placed outside the room to remind everyone about the special precautions. In some cases, equipment used in your daily care will remain in your room.

What will happen when I leave the hospital?
If you go to another health care facility or if you have continued care services in your home, some precautions might be needed. This is to prevent your caregivers from picking up the germ and spreading it to others.

Good handwashing is very important to reduce the risk of spreading MRSA.

What about at home?
MRSA is no more dangerous than other normal bacteria that people carry on their skin and are exposed to everyday.

You can carry on with your usual activities and remind everyone to wash their hands often. You should wash your hands after you go to the bathroom or touch your nose or a wound as a matter of routine, not just for MRSA.

Will this go away?
The MRSA might go away on its own. However, your doctor may order a special antibiotic cream to be put into your nose and on any wounds you might have. It is important that you apply this cream as prescribed for the recommended number of days. You may be asked to wash your body with a special skin antiseptic. This may help to get rid of the MRSA faster. If you have an infection your doctor may order an antibiotic, i.e. Vancomycin. After you finish your treatment, cultures will be taken from certain parts of your body. If they do not show MRSA, Infection Control staff in consultation with your Physician may remove precautions.

How can I help?
If you go to another hospital or doctor, please tell your doctor, nurse, or other caregiver that you were once on special precautions for MRSA. This will allow them to check your status and use precautions to make sure they do not carry the organism to other patients.

What if I am admitted again?
On any future admission, you may be placed in a single room and special precautions may be taken. Swabs from certain parts of your body will be taken to ensure there is no MRSA. Even if special precautions are not needed at that time, you may be kept in a private room and checked regularly to make sure you do not have MRSA.

Additional questions?
Contact Infection Control at Ross Memorial Hospital at 705-324-6111, extension 4508.

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