MRSA and many questions

Nurses General Nursing


To start off I am not a nurse, but a counselor who works in a residential drug/alcohol treatment facility. The situation is that I was doing an assesment on a client for treatment. Foolish me always approaches incoming patients with a friendly smile and handshake. After getting in my office I notice that the patient has large sores on both hands. After asking about them he produces a letter from a local hospital stating that he must return to the ER immediatley because his culture came back positive for MRSA. So I ask him what MRSA was and he said he didn't know because he hadn't gone back to the ER for a lack of transportation. The letter was dated approxamatley one month ago. After looking this up on the internet I immediatley informed my supervisor and was instructed to escort him out of the building ASAP until he had seen a doctor and had a note stating he was being treated and was no longer contagious. Imediatley upon my return I recieved a phone call from administration telling me an unusual incident report would not be needed and to wash my hands and not worry about a thing. Can somone please let me know how contagious and dangeous this MRSA is?

Specializes in Med/Surg, Ortho.

Whether he contaminated you by shaking hands is the question. Where was the MRSA cultured from? It can be in many different places. If you are concerned speak with your private physician and follow through with his recommendations.

suzanne4, RN

26,410 Posts

MRSA is methicillin resistant staph aureus. It shows up more frequently in debilitated patients. It also usually first shows up in urine or sputum. If you are healthy, all you can do is wash your hands quite well. but, I would definitely make up an incident report, the same way we do in hospitals when someone geta needle stick, etc. I have taken care of patients with MRSA for years and luckily have never had a problem. And that included working in the OR with patients diagnosed with this form of bacteria. At this point, there is nothing at all that you can do about the contact, you don't want antibiotics just to ward off the possibility of something, because this is essentially how MRSA has gotten out of hand.

Hope that this info helps you to sleep better tonight. You are already working in a treatment facility so you have been coming into contact with many bugs that you may neot have even been aware of......have you gotten ill from any of your clients in the past?


564 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care.

This is why I avoid shaking hands and doorknobs like the plague. You never know what's there.



126 Posts

Most people have MRSA living in their nasal passages. This comes from an infection control nurse at a level 2 trauma center. We had an outbreak of pt's with MRSA (hospital aquired). People can get MRSA virtually anywhere on and in their body. Depending on where its is, is to how much precautions need to be taken. Its very contagious living on the skin, esp to those who are immunocompromised, and ill. Good hand washing tech assist in riding the MRSA, but it needs to be good.

MRSA used to be a nosocomial infection but now is prevalent in several communities. It can be very serious, but, like other infections, is worse for people who are immuned suppressed, etc. I have worked with many pts. with MRSA and never got it.


720 Posts

Specializes in CCU/CVU/ICU.

Minicus, i wouldn't lose any sleep over this. I'd wager the majority of nurses who've worked for any amount of time could culture it out from their nostrils. (it's favorite place to live is hospitals and nursing homes...and warm moist mucous membranes)

Staph. bacteria are've prbably got it on you right now! No need to take a wont help. :p

MRSA is a staph. bacteria and isnt any more or less contageous (sp?) than other staph. bugs. The difference is not that MRSA is more 'contageous', but rather that it's more 'difficult to treat' as it's resistant to most common antibiotics...(but not all!)

You wont suddenly develope MRSA infected sores just because you shook someones hand. First, you'd have to have the sores...then you'd have to introduce the MRSA....then you'd have to see if it 'takes root' (ie you develope infection)...If you're healthy (ie not immunocompromised) and wash your hands, you're likely never to have to worry about it.

The reason why Hospital and Nursing-home staff get so worked up (and rightly so!) is because it can make a compromised person (ie patient and/or resident) even sicker. MRSA infections (just like any other staph infection!) thrive when their host is already compromised....and nurses are the BIGGEST and BEST vehicle for it's spread....(unfortunate for our patients!)

Just keep washing your'll be fine!


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