What is MRSA?
First identified in the 1960s, MRSA is an abbreviation of Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus.
MRSA is a bacteria that has developed resistance to a group of antibiotics called Methicillin, although it can still be treated with other groups of antibiotics.
Commonly found in the nose or on the skin, MRSA can be found in approximately one third of the population. People may be either colonised or infected with MRSA. Colonised people are those who will have no effects from the bacteria and often do not know that it is present. Infected people will have signs of infection which can include: raised temperature, pain, swelling or pus coming from an infected site.
MRSA is spread from person to person via direct contact or from contact with a contaminated piece of equipment.
Why do patients need to be screened?
We ask that all of our patients who are to be admitted into hospital are screened for MRSA, with the exception of those having an endoscopy, or a dental procedure as a day case. This is to ensure that we can eradicate or suppress the bacteria before you are admitted for your procedure.
The MRSA screen should be taken between 21 and 5 days prior to your admission to ensure we have the results before the date of your procedure.
This will help to reduce the risk of you developing an MRSA infection in your wound or passing MRSA on to other patients in the hospital.
What does screening involve?
MRSA screening is a painless intervention that is performed by taking swabs from your nose, groin or perineum (the area between the anus and the external genitalia), axilla (armpit), operation sites that are less than one year old and any broken areas of skin. If you have a urinary catheter, a urine sample will also be sent for screening.
The process takes less than 5 minutes to complete and is pain free.
When and where can you be screened for MRSA?
Once your procedure has been confirmed with your consultant, your MRSA screen can be carried out by a nurse, or a healthcare assistant within the outpatient centre. This can be done immediately following your consultation, or at a later date, providing it is within 21 days of your admission date. If your MRSA screen is at a later date, you do not need an appointment, just inform the reception of the outpatient centre you are attending that you require a pre-procedure MRSA screen. Screening can be carried out at London Bridge Hospital, or at one of our outpatient facilities:
- London Bridge Hospital
- HCA Healthcare UK at The Shard
- 31 Old Broad Street
- 120 Old Broad Street
- City of London Medical Centre
- HCA Healthcare UK at Docklands
- Sevenoaks Medical Centre
What happens if your results are positive?
Should your results show that you have MRSA, you will be contacted by the hospital and asked to undergo an eradication/suppression treatment process. This will involve daily washes and two hair washes with an antimicrobial solution, alongside the use of a nasal ointment/ gel. You will be given instructions on how to apply your treatment. On some occasions, your specialist may also prescribe the use of oral antibiotics.
Whilst using the eradication/suppression treatment, you are also advised to change your clothes daily and bed linen at least weekly. All laundry must be washed daily at 60 degrees or above.
Following completion of the treatment process, you will be required to undergo further screening to ensure that the MRSA has cleared. This is undertaken 48 hours post completion of treatment. We require a total of three negative screens to be assured that the treatment has worked sufficiently – taken at 48-hour intervals. Information will be given to you to explain the follow-up process and any additional screening required. It is important to remember that just because you are found to have MRSA, it does not mean you will become ill or that you are a health risk to those around you. There is no requirement for you to make any other changes to your normal daily lifestyle.
What happens next?
Once you have been cleared of MRSA by our screening process, you can undergo your treatment as arranged with your specialist. If your stay with us is over one week, we will routinely screen you on each consecutive week. However, if your MRSA is not cleared after your treatment your consultant will advise you.
All of our patients are nursed in single rooms with en-suite facilities with the exception of our Day Surgery Unit. This significantly reduces the risks of you coming into contact with other patients and therefore reduces the risk of cross infection.
Please contact the Infection Control Nurse on 07881 625 969
or call the Hospital Switchboard on 020 7407 3100 and ask for Infection Control