January 2008
MRSA and Other Healthcare-Associated Infections
Infectious Diseases

More than 1,700 reports related to methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), including 14 deaths, have been submitted to the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority over a three-year period. MRSA (Mer-sa) is a type of bacteria that is resistant to certain antibiotics. People can get MRSA during a hospital stay or in their community. Despite healthcare facilities’ efforts to reduce infections, like MRSA, they continue to cause harm to patients. It is important for people to protect themselves as much as possible from getting an infection of any kind. The following consumer tips can help you protect yourself and your loved ones from MRSA and other healthcare-associated infections.

What You Can Do To Protect Yourself in the Hospital:
  • If you test positive for MRSA, you may be placed on isolation or in a room with another patient with MRSA.
  • Remind healthcare workers to post signs for isolation outside your room, if placed on isolation.
  • Remind healthcare workers to wear a gown and gloves when caring for you.
  • Request written material about MRSA.
  • Wash your hands using soap and water or hand gels.
  • Wash your hands frequently, especially before eating or after toileting.
  • Remind healthcare workers to wash their hands before or after caring for you.
  • Ask family and visitors to wash their hands when visiting.
  • Remind healthcare workers about cleaning equipment that appears dirty or that you use frequently.
What You Can Do to Protect Yourself at Home:

(At home tips developed and provided with permission from the VA’s National Center for Patient Safety)

Not all precautions taken in the hospital are necessary at home. If someone in your home has MRSA or if you are discharged home with MRSA, please follow these basic hygiene measures:

  • Continue to use good hand washing throughout the day. Ask your visitors to do the same. Wash with soap and water for at least 15 seconds each time.
  • Let anyone caring for you know that you are a MRSA carrier. This includes home health providers, nurses, therapists and rescue squads. Caregivers should be certain to wear gloves when attending to open wounds.
  • Do not share towels, washcloths, razors, clothing or other personal items.
  • No special cleaning is necessary. Laundry and dishes can be done as usual. Just be sure to use a cleaning agent or detergent with HOT water.

REMEMBER that MRSA will not usually harm healthy people. However, healthy people can be carriers and help spread the bacteria to others.

For more information on MRSA go to the December 2007 Patient Safety Advisory article “Identification and Effective Communication of Status May Reduce MRSA Infections,” by clicking here. For more healthcare consumer tips, click on “Patient Information" and "Safety Tips for Patients” at www.patientsafetyauthority.org.

©2018 Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority