Hospital Hygiene

Health Care Associated Infections (HCAIs)

What is MRSA?

There are a lot of micro-organisms (bacteria) on our skin and in the environment around us, most of which are harmless. Staphylococcus Aureus or Staph. Aureus (S.A) is a type of bacteria that is commonly found on the skin and in the nostrils of about a third of healthy people. This carriage of bacteria is known as being colonised. MRSA stands for Meticillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus.

MRSA are varieties of S.A. that have developed resistance to some antibiotics we commonly use to treat infections. This can make infections of MRSA more difficult to treat. MRSA is not new. It was first discovered in the 1960s and is found in many countries.


How do people get MRSA?

MRSA is usually spread by touch. If a person gets MRSA on their hands, they can pass it to people and things that they touch. It may be then picked up and passed on to others. Good hand hygiene is therefore important to help prevent the spread of MRSA. MRSA is found from the results of swabs and specimens that are processed in a microbiology lab.


What happens when a patient is found to have MRSA?

MRSA can spread to other patients. Hospital staff take precautions to stop this happening. Policies for treating patients who are colonised, or who have an infection with MRSA, vary depending on the individual, what their needs are and where they are being cared for.


How is MRSA treated?

People who get MRSA can be treated.

If a patient is colonised with MRSA, antiseptic washes and a nasal cream can be used. A patient who has an infection due to MRSA will need antibiotics which are usually given via an intravenous line (drip).


Can MRSA cause harm to family and friends?

MRSA does not usually harm healthy people. MRSA can affect people who have longterm health problems such as chronic skin problems.

Visitors can help to reduce the spread of many infections by not sitting on patient beds, cleaning their hands before and after visiting and by not visiting patients if they are unwell themselves.


Do patients with MRSA have to stay in hospital longer?

Patients who have an MRSA infection have to stay in hospital until their infection has been treated. Patients who are colonised with MRSA do not usually stay longer in hospital. The Infection Prevention and Control Team will decide on whether further treatment is required. This depends on whether the patient is likely to need further hospital care.


Who do I contact if I need further information?

If you have any other questions about MRSA please contact the ward manager or the Infection Prevention and Control Team on 01204 390408.


What is Clostridium Difficile?

It is a type of bacteria sometimes present in the bowel, that three percent of healthy people can carry without it causing a problem. This can increase to 36 percent in hospitalised patients. The bacteria can produce a toxin which may cause severe and frequent diarrhoea. It may also cause abdominal pain, a raised temperature, loss of appetite and nausea.


Why have I got Clostridium Difficile?

This infection often occurs after someone has taken antibiotics to treat another illness or infection. Certain antibiotics disturb the balance of normal bacteria in the bowel and this allows Clostridium Difficile to increase and perhaps start to produce toxins, which may cause diarrhoea.


What will happen to me if I get Clostridium Difficile?

If you are in hospital you may be asked to move into a single room. If there is not an ensuite toilet you will be allocated your own commode. You must make sure you wash your hands after using the toilet and before meals. Staff will wear gloves and aprons to look after you and wash their hands before and after giving you care.


How is it treated?

You will be treated with an antibiotic to settle your diarrhoea. It is important that you complete the course even if the symptoms have gone. The medical team may also do blood tests and ensure you are taking adequate fluids whether orally (by mouth) or by intravenous infusion (drip).


Can I have visitors?

Yes you can have visitors as healthy people are at very little risk of getting Clostridium Difficile. It can be spread from person to person so visitors should always wash their hands as they come and go. The alcohol hand rubs are not effective against this bacteria. Visitors do not need to wear gloves and aprons unless helping with your personal care. Personal laundry can still be sent home and washed on a separate cycle at 60 degrees centigrade. Any visitors who are unwell, for example, taking antibiotics, have diarrhoea and vomiting, or any infections, should stay away until they are better.


Can I go home with Clostridium Difficile?

You can normally go home if the medical staff are satisfied you are fit for discharge. If you are going to intermediate care or a nursing or residential home you can leave hospital 48 hours after the diarrhoea has settled. You will be informed if you need to continue treatment. Once home, normal hand washing and cleaning of your home is all that is needed.


Can it come back?

Occasionally it can come back. Please contact your GP if your diarrhoea returns and tell them that whilst in hospital you were diagnosed with Clostridium Difficile.