MRSA screening

Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS foundation Trust is committed to reducing the risk of MRSA infection, and following guidance from the Department of Health to screen all patients for MRSA before they are admitted to hospital for surgery or other planned procedures. Some other patients who are at increased risk of MRSA infection will also be screened.

What is MRSA?

MRSA stands for methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus. This is a type of Staphylococcus (staph) aureus bacteria (germ) which is resistant to penicillin-based antibiotics.

Around one in four healthy people carry Staph aureus on their skin or in their nose. A much smaller proportion carry MRSA.

What problems can Staph aureus cause?

Staph aureus does not usually cause problems. When it does cause infection it is usually minor and affects the skin, resulting in infected cuts and boils. Occasionally it causes severe infection. Patients with other diseases who have surgical wounds, catheters or drips, which allow bacteria to enter the body, are more at risk of severe infection.

What is different about MRSA?

MRSA acts in the same way as other types of Staph aureus and causes the same range of infections. What makes MRSA different is its resistance to antibiotics. There are effective antibiotics but some are more difficult to give (injection only) or may cause side effects. This makes the spread of MRSA in hospitals more concerning.

Why do we screen for MRSA?

If you are carrying MRSA we can reduce the chance of this causing infection when you come into hospital and reduce the risk of it spreading to other patients.

How do you screen for MRSA?

Swabs will be taken from your nose and in some cases from your armpits, groin and any wounds you may have. Swab results will be available three-to-four days after they have been taken.

What happens if the screening is negative?

If your screening results are negative you will not be contacted and will not require any treatment. There is a small chance that the swabs taken may fail to identify MRSA even if you are a carrier.

This may happen if the number of MRSA bacteria present on your body is very small. It is possible that if you are swabbed again in the future, MRSA may be identified.

What will happen if the result is positive?

The waiting list manager or consultant will contact you and your GP. You will need to start treatment with an antiseptic nasal ointment and body wash. Your GP will write a prescription which you can get in the usual way from any pharmacy.

This antiseptic treatment does not get rid of every MRSA germ but it reduces their numbers. This reduces the risk that MRSA will cause you any problems during and after your surgery or procedure.

If I am positive when should I use the treatment?

The treatment needs to be used for five days before the date of your operation or procedure.

Failure to use the treatment may cause a delay in your procedure/surgery.

If I am positive are there any risks to my family?

MRSA is not a risk to healthy people. However, if a family member is about to go into hospital please inform the ward concerned.

MRSA and infection control

Bradford Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust is committed to maintaining high standards of hygiene and reducing the risk of infection. All staff are required to follow strict rules to prevent cross infection and maintain a clean environment.

Hospital staff

If a member of staff needs to examine you or perform a procedure please ask them to clean their hands if you are worried they may have forgotten. It is OK to ask.

What can you do to help?

Personal hygiene is very important and you will need to bring in personal toiletries for your stay in hospital. Always wash your hands or use the hygiene gel provided after you have used the toilet and before eating or drinking.

Your visitors

Visitors should wash their hands or use the hygiene gel before entering or leaving the ward. They should cover up any open wounds or cuts when visiting.

If your visitors have any infections or symptoms of diarrhoea or vomiting please discuss this with the nurse in charge before they come onto a ward.

Help us to maintain a clean hospital

If you or your visitors notice anything that is not clean please report this to the nurse in charge of the ward as soon as possible so that it can be put right. For further information please ask a member of staff for the Reducing the Risk of Infection in Hospital leaflet or ring our Infection Control Team on 01274 364049.

Need further information?

If you have any further queries please ask at the pre-assessment clinic or outpatient clinic when you attend.


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