FAQ: MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and MDROs (Multidrug-resistant organisms)

What are MDROs?

Multidrug-resistant organisms are bacteria that cannot be killed by the antibiotics commonly used to treat infections caused by these bacteria. One of the most common MDROs is known as MRSA.

What is MRSA?

Staphylococcus aureus (pronounced staff-ill-oh-KOK-us AW-ree-us), or “Staph” is a very common germ. Approximately one out of every three people have Staph on their skin or in their nose. This germ does not cause any problems for most people who have it on their skin, but in some cases it can cause serious infections such as skin or wound infections, pneumonia or infections of the blood.

Who is most likely to get an MRSA or MDRO infection?

In the hospital, people who are more likely to get an MRSA or MDRO infection are people who:

  • Have other health conditions making them sick
  • Have been in the hospital or a nursing home
  • Have been treated with antibiotics

People who are healthy and who have not been in the hospital or a nursing home can also get MRSA and MDRO

How could I get an MRSA or MDRO infection?

People who are infected or have MRSA or MDROs on their skin may be able to spread the germ to other people. MRSA and MDROs can be passed on to bed linens, bed rails, bathroom fixtures, and medical equipment. It can spread to other people on contaminated equipment and on the hands of doctors, nurses, other healthcare providers and visitors.

Can MRSA and MDRO infections be treated?

Yes, there are antibiotics that can kill MRSA and MDRO germs. Some patients with abscesses may need surgery to drain the infection. Your healthcare provider will determine which treatments are best for you.

What are some of the things that hospitals are doing to prevent MRSA and MDRO infections?

To prevent MRSA and MDRO infections, doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers:

  • Clean their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub before and after caring for every patient.
  • Carefully clean hospital rooms and medical equipment.
  • May test some patients to see if they have MRSA or another MDRO on their skin. This test involves rubbing a cotton-tipped swab in the patient’s nostrils or on the skin.
  • Use Contact Precautions when caring for patients with MRSA and MDROs. Contact Precautions mean:
    • Whenever possible, patients with MRSA or MDRO will have a single room or will share a room only with someone else who also has MRSA or the same MDRO.
    • Healthcare providers will put on gloves and wear a gown over their clothing while taking care of patients with MRSA and MDROs.
    • Visitors may also be asked to wear a gown and gloves.
    • When leaving the room, hospital providers and visitors remove their gown and gloves and clean their hands.
    • Patients on Contact Precautions are asked to stay in their hospital rooms as much as possible. They should not go to common areas, such as the gift shop or cafeteria. They may go to other areas of the hospital for treatments and tests.

What can I do to help prevent MRSA and MRDO infections?

  • In the hospital: Make sure that all doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers clean their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub before and after caring for you.
  • When you go home: If you have wounds or an intravascular device (such as a catheter or dialysis port), make sure that you know how to take care of them.

Can my friends and family get MRSA or another MDRO when they visit me?

The chance of getting MRSA or MDRO while visiting a person who has MRSA or MDRO is very low.

To decrease the chance of getting MRSA or MDRO your family and friends should:

  • Clean their hands before they enter your room and when they leave.
  • Ask a healthcare provider if they need to wear protective gowns and gloves when they visit you.

What do I need to do when I go home from the hospital?

To prevent MRSA and MDRO infection and to prevent spreading the MRSA and MRDOs to others:

  • Keep taking any antibiotics prescribed by your doctor. Don’t take half-doses or stop before you complete your prescribed course.
  • Clean your hands often, especially before and after changing your wound dressing or bandage.
  • Make sure people who live with you clean their hands often as well.
  • Keep any wounds clean and change bandages as instructed until healed.
  • Avoid sharing personal items such as towels or razors.
  • Wash and dry your clothes and bed linens in the warmest temperatures recommended on the labels.
  • Tell your healthcare providers that you have MRSA or any other MDRO. This includes home health nurses and aides,
  • therapists, and personnel in doctors’ offices.

Your doctor may have additional instructions for you. If you do not see your providers clean their hands, please ask them to do so. If you have additional questions, please ask your doctor or nurse.

Adapted from FAQs about “MRSA.” Cosponsored by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the American Hospital Association, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The Joint Commission.

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