Healthcare XVI – MRSA Media Panic?

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is all over the news these days.

MRSA is a drug resistant form of a staph infection, and the deaths of young people have started a media stampede of spectacular stories. A few more bits of information (double checked with the world’s best nurse):

1. MRSA is not something new. “Best Nurse” dealt with it along time ago. It is infecting more young people. It can be deadly, or not.
2. My research indicates that MRSA does not kill more people than AIDS each year as reported (it is possible that the number of people who die with staph infections of all kinds is higher than AIDS deaths). I could be wrong.
3. Most people have some staph bacteria on their skin at some times.
4. Most MRSA infections still occur during hospitalization. Three reasons, compromised immune systems (lots of sick people), open wounds and failure of hygiene protocols.

So should you do anything about MRSA and staph in general? Possibly.

A. If your child plays school sports or is on the Y swim team, call and ask about cleaning procedures in the locker rooms. Insist on thorough cleaning with disinfectants.
B. Check your child frequently for nicks and cuts, especially if they play contact sports. This will irritate your teens to no end. If you find a puffy spot with radiating red streaks, this could be a cellulitis infection – see the doctor. Otherwise be certain any wounds are clean and dab with triple antibiotic ointment – any questions, see a doctor. Lack of prompt healing – see a doctor. Any uncertainty – see a doctor. Persistent fever – see a doctor.
C. When you or a loved one are in a hospital, let it be known firmly that you expect all personnel, including physicians, to observe hand washing protocols. If they don’t, call the VP of Nursing and raise hell.
D. Teach everyone in the family that a fever is a message, and should be reported to parents.