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Precautions to Prevent Spread of MRSA

The following Standard Precautions and Contact Precautions are from the Guideline for Isolation Precautions: Preventing Transmission of Infectious Agents in Healthcare Settings 2007 [PDF – 3.80 MB]

Standard Precautions

These standard precautions should control the spread of MRSA in most instances.

  1. Hand Hygiene
    Perform hand hygiene after touching blood, body fluids, secretions, excretions, and contaminated items, whether or not gloves are worn. Perform hand hygiene immediately after gloves are removed, between patient contacts, and when otherwise indicated to avoid transfer of microorganisms to other patients or environments. When hands are visibly soiled with blood or other body fluids, wash hands with soap and water. It may be necessary to perform hand hygiene between tasks and procedures on the same patient to prevent cross-contamination of different body sites.
  2. Gloving
    Wear gloves (clean nonsterile gloves are adequate) when it can be reasonably anticipated that contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials, mucous membranes, nonintact skin, or potentially contaminated intact skin (e.g., of a patient incontinent of stool or urine) could occur. Remove gloves after contact with a patient and/or the surrounding environment (including medical equipment) using proper technique to prevent hand contamination. Do not wear the same pair of gloves for the care of more than one patient. Do not wash gloves for the purpose of reuse since this practice has been associated with transmission of pathogens.
  3. Mouth, nose, eye protection
    Use PPE to protect the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose and mouth during procedures and patient-care activities that are likely to generate splashes or sprays of blood, body fluids, secretions and excretions. Select masks, goggles, face shields, and combinations of each according to the need anticipated by the task performed.
  4. Gowning
    Wear a gown, that is appropriate to the task, to protect skin and prevent soiling or contamination of clothing during procedures and patient-care activities when contact with blood, body fluids, secretions, or excretions is anticipated.
  5. Appropriate device handling of patient care equipment and instruments/devices
    Handle used patient-care equipment soiled with blood, body fluids, secretions, and excretions in a manner that prevents skin and mucous membrane exposures, contamination of clothing, and transfer of microorganisms to other patients and environments. Ensure that reusable equipment is not used for the care of another patient until it has been appropriately cleaned and reprocessed and that single-use items are properly discarded. Clean and disinfect surfaces that are likely to be contaminated with pathogens, including those that are in close proximity to the patient (e.g., bed rails, over bed tables) and frequently-touched surfaces in the patient care environment (e.g., door knobs, surfaces in and surrounding toilets in patients’ rooms) on a more frequent schedule compared to that for other surfaces (e.g., horizontal surfaces in waiting rooms).
  6. Appropriate handling of laundry
    Handle, transport, and process used linen to avoid contamination of air, surfaces and persons.
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Contact Precautions

CDC recommends contact precautions when the facility (based on national or local regulations) deems MRSA to be of special clinical and epidemiologic significance. The components of contact precautions may be adapted for use in non-hospital healthcare facilities, especially if the patient has draining wounds or difficulty controlling body fluids.

These contact precautions should be followed for some patients. To determine if a patient needs to be placed on Contact Precautions see page 38 of Management of Multidrug-Resistant Organisms In Healthcare Settings, 2006 [PDF 233 KB]

  1. Patient placement
    In Patient placement in hospitals and LTCFs, when single-patient rooms are available, assign priority for these rooms to patients with known or suspected MRSA colonization or infection. Give highest priority to those patients who have conditions that may facilitate transmission, e.g., uncontained secretions or excretions. When single-patient rooms are not available, cohort patients with the same MRSA in the same room or patient-care area. When cohorting patients with the same MRSA is not possible, place MRSA patients in rooms with patients who are at low risk for acquisition of MRSA and associated adverse outcomes from infection and are likely to have short lengths of stay.
    In general, in all types of healthcare facilities it is best to place patients requiring Contact Precautions in a single patient room. To assist with decision making about patient placement in various types of healthcare facilities see page 84 of Guideline for Isolation Precautions: Preventing Transmission of Infectious Agents in Healthcare Settings 2007 [PDF – 3.80 MB] .
  2. Gloving
    Wear gloves whenever touching the patient’s intact skin or surfaces and articles in close proximity to the patient (e.g., medical equipment, bed rails). Don gloves upon entry into the room or cubicle.
  3. Gowning
    Don gown upon entry into the room or cubicle. Remove gown and observe hand hygiene before leaving the patient-care environment. After gown removal, ensure that clothing and skin do not contact potentially contaminated environmental surfaces that could result in possible transfer of microorganism to other patients or environmental surfaces.
  4. Patient transport
    In acute care hospitals and long-term care and other residential settings, limit transport and movement of patients outside of the room to medically-necessary purposes. When transport or movement in any healthcare setting is necessary, ensure that infected or colonized areas of the patient’s body are contained and covered. Remove and dispose of contaminated PPE and perform hand hygiene prior to transporting patients on Contact Precautions. Don clean PPE to handle the patient at the transport destination.
  5. Patient-care equipment and instuments/devices

    In acute care hospitals and long-term care and other residential settings, use disposable noncritical patient-care equipment (e.g., blood pressure cuffs) or implement patient-dedicated use of such equipment. If common use of equipment for multiple patients is unavoidable, clean and disinfect such equipment before use on another patient.

    In home care settings limit the amount of non-disposable patient-care equipment brought into the home of patients on Contact Precautions. Whenever possible, leave patient-care equipment in the home until discharge from home care services. If noncritical patient-care equipment (e.g., stethoscope) cannot remain in the home, clean and disinfect items before taking them from the home using a low- to intermediate-level disinfectant. Alternatively, place contaminated reusable items in a plastic bag for transport.

  6. Environmental measures

    Ensure that rooms of patients on Contact Precautions are prioritized for frequent cleaning and disinfection (e.g., at least daily) with a focus on frequently-touched surfaces (e.g., bed rails, overbed table, bedside commode, lavatory surfaces in patient bathrooms, doorknobs) and equipment in the immediate vicinity of the patient.

  7. Discontinuation of Contact Precautions

    No recommendation can be made regarding when to discontinue Contact Precautions.

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Additional Precautions

In addition to standard and contact precautions, the following procedures also may be considered for non-hospital healthcare facilities:

  1. Patient Placement
    Place the patient in a private room, if possible. When a private room is not available, place the patient in a room with a patient who is colonized or infected with the same organism, but does not have any other infection (cohorting). Another option is to place an infected patient with a patient who does not have risk factors for infection.
  2. Patient Placement in Dialysis Facilities
    Dialyze the patient at a station with as few adjacent stations as possible (e.g., at the end or corner of the unit).
  3. Group Activities
    It is extremely important to maintain the patients’ ability to socialize and have access to rehabilitation opportunities. Infected or colonized patients should be permitted to participate in group meals and activities if draining wounds are covered, bodily fluids are contained, and the patients observe good hygienic practices.

The following are recommended for prevention of VRE and MRSA in hospitals and may be adapted for use in non-hospital healthcare facilities:

  • Obtain stool cultures or rectal swab cultures of roommates of patients newly found to be infected or colonized with VRE, and nasal swabs for MRSA.
  • Adopt a policy for deciding when patients can be removed from isolation, e.g., VRE-negative results on at least three consecutive occasions, one or more weeks apart.
  • Consult health departments regarding discharge requirements for patients with MRSA or VRE.

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Additional Resources:

Treating MRSA Skin Infections and Severe MRSA Infections