Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a serious infection that can be acquired by persons who are hospitalized and have a depressed immune system, or are recovering from surgery. MRSA is particularly dangerous because it can be spread through the air and by physical contact, and is resistant to most forms of antibiotics. Patients who have MRSA must be isolated to prevent infecting others.
In order for any isolation guidelines to be effective, proper hand hygiene must be enforced. All persons coming into contact with blood and/or body fluids, as well as items that have been touched or worn by a MRSA infected person, should wash their hands immediately. This is true even if gloves are worn. The hands should be washed immediately after the removal of the gloves.
Persons entering the room of a patient who has MRSA must wear masks, goggles/face shields, gloves, and a surgical gown. All the mucous membranes must protected from airborne or physical contamination by MRSA bacteria. Additionally, all skin should be covered to prevent contact with the MRSA infected patient and other items in the room. Upon leaving the patient, all hospital garb and protective items should be treated as hazardous medical waste and disposed of in appropriate receptacles.
Dealing With Medical Devices
All medical devices used by a MRSA patient or housed in the same room as a patient with MRSA must be thoroughly sanitized before reuse. All external surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned before being allowed back into general use. This also includes transport devices such as wheel chairs, stretchers, and other equipment such as canes and walkers.
Persons with MRSA should not room with other patients. They should have their own rooms with signage clearly identifying the need for contact, droplet, and airborne precautions on the patient's door. When it is not possible to place patients in single rooms, MRSA patients may be placed in a room with another patient who has the same strain of MRSA infection.
Persons with MRSA may be allowed to move about and participate in activities as long as the area or site of the MRSA infection (feeding tube, etc.) can be covered and isolated. In cases where it is impossible to isolate and cover MRSA infected areas, if the patient is producing sputum, or has uncontrolled bodily functions, they should not be allowed to interact with other patients or guests outside of their hospital room.
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