MRSA Screening

Pre-operative M.R.S.A. screening

Information for patients undergoing MRSA screening before coming into hospital for a planned operation.

What is MRSA?

MRSA is a germ that usually lives on damp parts of the outside of your body like nose, armpits and groin. MRSA lives harmlessly on the skin of around 1 in 30 people. This is known as "colonisation" or "carrying" MRSA.

Having MRSA on your skin will not make you ill. But it may cause a serious infection if it gets deeper into your body especially if it gets into your blood through broken skin such as having an operation.

MRSA stands for Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus meaning the germ does not respond to ordinary antibiotics. It may be difficult to treat.

Why do we screen for MRSA?

MRSA Screening means testing to see if someone is carrying the MRSA germ on their skin.

By screening before your operation, we can find out who is carrying the germ and provide treatment for you before you are admitted to hospital to reduce the risk of you getting infection by MRSA.

How will I be screened?

This involves placing a cotton bud swab in and around your nose or on surfaces of your groin area for a few seconds. The swab/s is then sent to the laboratory for testing. The results usually take three to four working days.

What do I do If I am MRSA screening positive (Carry the MRSA germ on my skin)?

If screening finds MRSA on your skin, you may need treatment to remove it before your surgery. This is known as decolonisation.

This usually involves:

  • applying antibacterial cream inside your nose three times a day for five days
  • washing body and hair with an antibacterial shampoo every day for five days
  • changing your towel, clothes and bedding every day during treatment – the resulting laundry should be washed separately from other people’s and at a high temperature
  • You will then need to be re-swabbed to confirm that you are decolonised.

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