How infectious is MRSA really??


Hi. I am a RN student getting ready to start PEDS clincials next week. I was told the section of the hosptial we will be doing rotations in has MANY cases of every other room. I need some sound advice here. I am a heart patient and hypokalemic. I take beta blockers and KCL regularly everyday. If I get sick, or have my period, for example.... my heart will sick beats, beats really fast, etc. So I do my best to stay pretty healthy. And for the most part, my heart does Ok. Now... does anyone know how contagious MRSA really is AND does anyone know how it may affect the heart (if one gets sick with it)?? I am thinking about telling my PEDS teacher that I can do a few MRSA rooms and pull some weight as that is only fair, HOWEVER, I do not want to do room after room of MRSA patients as I feel that my jeopardize my health. Do you think I have a right to say this?? Am I being wimpy here?? I will do some MRSA rooms, but just feel that taking care of MRSA patient after MRSA patient may jeopardize my health as if I get sick from it, it may put me in a hairy situation (and some of you are probably thinking.... WHY did you want to go into Nursing... for a LOT of different reasons, but I mostly want to work in my heart doc's office or do teaching.... NOT floor work). Anyway, I am seeing my clincial teacher tomorrow... she knows I have a heart condition... should I mention how I feel about doing lots of MRSA patients??? This may sound weird, but I am just not sure what to do... I want to do well in clincial, but don't want to jeopardize my health. I am not your average superwoman nursing student (due to my health):) Although, I do have a 3.7 average and do enjoy my studies. I just have to be careful. Your advice is really appreciated!!



1,975 Posts

I'm not nurse yet so I can't answer all of your questions, but did you speak to your Cardiologist about this?! I would get your doctor's input. If they feel it puts your health in peril then bring a note to the clinical instructor. My mother had MRSA and was ill for quite some time. Good luck and keep healthy.


23 Posts

Have you thought about talking with your own Dr/cardiologist regarding your condition? I think that would be the best bet to get the best advice! Good luck!


140 Posts

Specializes in ER, ICU cath lab, remote med.

I think maybe your questions verge on asking for medical advice...which we are not allowed to give on However, I will tell you this:I work with tons of MRSA...mostly MRSA wounds & MRSA respiratory infections. As far as I know, I don't have MRSA (although I've heard some huge percentage of healthcare workers nares are colonized?). All I do is practice the necessary precautions like I do with ALL patients. BUT...I'm totally healthy and not suffering any chronic disease/illness.

Also, when I was in nursing school, in order to expect any special treatment in clinicals, students had to have a note from their doctor and even then, the faculty and the host facility had to authorize you to procede with clinicals at all. For example, someone with a broken arm wasn't allowed to do clinicals at all because he would not be able to catch a falling patient, do CPR, etc. I guess all that may depend on the rules of your program and how willing the faculty is to work with you. My advice would be to talk to your doctor first and determine if indeed you run any more risk than anyone else in dealing with MRSA.

Super good luck with whatever you choose and in school!

Specializes in Med/Surg, Ortho.

If you use proper precautions that are outlined in the hospital policy and are very careful about your own handwashing you shouldnt have a problem. Isolation precautions are instituted as much to keep us healthy as they are protect others. Speak to your cardiologist, but somehow i dont know that it will get you out of handling any MRSA cases at clinicals.

Simply put, you are at no more risk with isolation precautions in a hospital than you are going into walmart or having kids in sports at schools. The only difference is you actually know it is there where at a store someplace anyone walking by you, or handling your cart before you might have an infection and you dont know it. MRSA is not just a hospital acquired infection anymore.


784 Posts

Wow! GREAT help as always. You all are the best. I will check with my heart doc. and get his input. That was a very good suggestion. I do follow good standard precautions and do try very hard to protect myself.

THANK YOU EVERYONE! You are the best!! :w00t:

Specializes in School Nursing. Has 23 years experience.

I agree with meownsmile-you're more at risk in the community where you don't know what the folks have then in the hospital where you DO know and take appropriate precautions.

Again, we can't really give medical advice, so you want to check with your own cardiologist regarding your specific condition.


70 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surg and Wound Care, PACU.

you also have to consider that you don't always know if your patient has mrsa or not

they must be tested, our infection doctor told us that aprox 50 % of all patients have mrsa, i would say good handwashing


Katie82, RN

642 Posts

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, PH, CM. Has 41 years experience.

Hospitals are spending a lot of time and money monitoring MRSA because it has become such a problem. Many screen patients on admission. MRSA can lay dorment for periods, so there are many who do not know they have it. We have created this monster, and I predict that we will soon be down to only one or two abx that are only minimally effective. One reason the CDC has a big campaign to convince docs and the public not to overprescribe antibiotics.


1,361 Posts

Specializes in ICU, ER, EP,. Has 17 years experience.

A good respectful fear of catching "bugs" is what will keep you using standard precautions and prevent it. Not respecting the bugs transmission and assuming certain populations are "safe" is what puts us at risk. Follow the protocol, use excellent handwashing and you'll be safe.


847 Posts

What we have been told to do, because MRSA has been found to colonize in the nares (nostrils) of healthcare workers, is to take a cotton swab and coat the inside of our nares with a Petroleum based product. At the end of the shift the coating, believe it or not, has visible "things" in it. We again swab out our nares and A LOT of people have been using the Neti pots once they swabbed their nares. No one as of yet has had any illness.

Our clinical instructor, who has been nursing for 150 years (LOL), says that AS LONG as you practice Universal precautions, also being very aware of cleaning your stethoscope, trauma scissors, and anything you will reuse, we will be ok. Does that Guarantee we won't suffer an outbreak, no. We are, or at least are going to be, nurses and the people we deal with are sick. If it isn't MRSA it is going to be some other Super bug that is threatening us. So, you cannot hide from infectious diseases or viruses, you just have to do what you were taught. Besides there are patients with MRSA that you don't know about yet. We should all treat each patient as case they do.....


59 Posts

lucky 1 RN said:

However, I will tell you this:I work with tons of MRSA...mostly MRSA wounds & MRSA respiratory infections. As far as I know, I don't have MRSA (although I've heard some huge percentage of healthcare workers nares are colonized?). All I do is practice the necessary precautions like I do with ALL patients. BUT...I'm totally healthy and not suffering any chronic disease/illness.


Very true but when found on the nares it's because it's part of the subject's flora - harmless unless it enters through a portal and an infection starts. I think I read up to 1/3 of the total world population carries the MRSA but for most it's not a problem. Hand washing is your best defense

This topic is now closed to further replies.