MRSA stands for Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, a type of infectious bacterium resistant to the antibiotic methicillin and other related antibiotics of the penicillin class.
MRSA infections are a particular problem in hospitals. Some patients have MRSA on their skin or nose without it causing them harm and these are known as colonised patients. However, these patients may develop infections if the MRSA spreads from the colonised skin area to an open wound.
MRSA mostly affects hospital patients and can be a serious, even fatal, infection. MRSA-related deaths are more common among the elderly and people with damaged or depressed immune systems, either from chronic disease or those undergoing chemotherapy, which represses the activity of the immune system.
MRSA can cause blood infections, such as septicaemia, that are hard to treat due to the bacteria’s resistance to many antibiotics.
Both Methicillin Resistant Staphyloccus Aureus (MRSA) and Methicillin Sensitive Staphyloccus Aureus (MSSA) can cause the same range of infections. Both of these can be colonised or infected. These infections can be in the form of impetigo, abscesses, infected wounds, bone or joint infections and bacterial endocarditis.
However, some strains of MRSA appear to spread more easily from patient to patient. Debilitated patients requiring full nursing care and those with open wounds are particularly at risk of colonisation with these strains.
At Blackrock Clinic we screen all elective in-patients that have been identified as high risk for MRSA.
Pre-admission screening ensures prompt treatment and prevents infection. However, due to admission of high-risk patients via Blackrock Clinic’s Emergency Department, it is sometimes only possible to screen patients on admission.
Screening activity is usually performed by a nurse. Subsequent to an initial screening, patients will undergo weekly MRSA testing which includes a nose and groin swab to ensure that during their stay, they are not at-risk to themselves or other patients.
Those who will be screened include:
- Patients who were previously colonised with MRSA
- Patients who have been, or are in,the ICU
- Long term debilitated inpatients that require full nursing care.