Protecting Yourself Against MRSA

MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) is an infection that can become life-threatening if left untreated. It is a form of Staph (Staphylococcus), a common bacteria that has been around for many centuries in skin infections, food poisoning and surgery wound infections. Germs get on your hands (and may also be in the throat, nose or on clothing) and are easily spread through common skin-to-skin contact.

There has been a lot of discussion about MRSA in the news and what health care facilities are doing to prevent the spread of infections. St. Luke’s takes proactive steps to ensure patient safety and continuously works to maintain a safe environment for patients, family members, physicians and St. Luke’s staff:

  • Patients that are admitted to St. Luke’s with pre-identified, community-acquired MRSA (acute hospitals, nursing homes, etc.) are placed in isolation on admission and remain in isolation until tests prove negative.
    • Isolation is monitored by doing walking rounds and continued education of staff, patients, visitors and physicians.
    • Personal Protective Equipment is readily available at the door of each room in isolation and instructions for its use posted on the cart.
  • St. Luke’s is active in Washington State Hospital Association’s “Best Hands On Care” campaign to increase hand sanitation. Hand gel dispensers are located throughout the facility including just outside and inside every patient room.
  • Added emphasis is placed on cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched areas such as door handles, bed rails and safety rails in bathrooms.
  • Ongoing education is provided for patients, visitors, physicians and staff members.

There are some simple precautions you can take to prevent spreading MRSA and other infections, including:

  • Wash your hands, thoroughly and frequently
  • Clean any minor cuts with soap and water; use an antimicrobial ointment and a bandage; keep the bandage clean and dry.
  • If you are having surgery, make sure your surgeon sees any infection sites.

Make sure that all health care providers clean their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub before and after caring for you. If you do not see them clean their hands, please ask them to do so. For more information about St. Luke's commitment to hand hygiene, click here.

Always be sure to talk with your health care provider, or any member of the St. Luke's staff, if you are concerned about MSRA and other infections. More information on MSRA and protecting yourself is available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Washington State Department of Health.