Preventing MRSA infection 

Hospital staff, patients and hospital visitors can take simple hygiene measures to help prevent the spread of MRSA and stop infection.


Hospital patients can reduce their risk of infection by:  

  • always washing their hands after using the toilet or commode (many hospitals now routinely offer hand wipes)
  • always washing their hands or cleaning them with a hand wipe immediately before and after eating a meal
  • making sure their bed area is regularly cleaned and reporting any unclean toilet or bathroom facilities to staff

Try not to be afraid to talk to staff if you are concerned about hygiene.

For more information about your stay in hospital, see NHS hospital services: in hospital.


Visitors can reduce the chance of spreading MRSA to other people by not sitting on the patient's bed and by cleaning their hands before and after entering the ward. They should use hand wipes or hand gel before touching the person they are visiting.

Hand gel or hand wipe dispensers are often placed by patients' beds and at the entrance to clinical areas.

For more information about visiting someone in hospital, see NHS hospital services for visitors.

Hospital staff

Hospital staff who come into contact with patients should maintain high standards of hygiene and take extra care when treating patients with MRSA.

  • Staff should thoroughly wash and dry their hands before and after caring for a patient, before and after touching any potentially contaminated equipment or dressings, after bed making and before handling food. 
  • Hands can be washed with soap and water or, if they are not visibly dirty, a fast-acting antiseptic solution like a hand wipe or hand gel.
  • Disposable gloves should be worn when staff have physical contact with open wounds, for example when changing dressings, handling needles or inserting an intravenous drip. Hands should be washed after gloves are removed.
  • The hospital environment, including floors, toilets and beds, should be kept as clean and dry as possible.
  • Patients with a known or suspected MRSA infection should be isolated.
  • Patients should only be transferred between wards when this is strictly necessary.

These steps aim to reduce the chance of patients infecting themselves and others.

For more information, see the Royal College of Nursing's MRSA: a guide for nursing staff (PDF, 450Kb).

Preventing community-associated MRSA

The following advice will help reduce your risk of catching or passing on MRSA outside hospital:

  • Regularly wash your hands and have frequent showers or baths.
  • Keep your fingernails short and clean because bacteria can grow under larger nails.
  • Do not share any products that come into contact with your skin, such as soaps, lotions, creams and cosmetics.
  • Do not share unwashed towels.
  • Do not share any personal items that come into contact with your skin, such as razors, nail files, toothbrushes, combs or hairbrushes, without thoroughly cleaning them first.

Read more information about preventing germs from spreading and keeping your home clean.

If you develop a skin or soft tissue MRSA infection:

  • Cover it with a dressing unless you are told not to by the doctor in charge of your care.
  • Wash your hands after touching affected areas of skin and potentially infected materials, such as used dressings.
  • Dispose of any potentially infected material promptly and safely in a dustbin or similar.

MRSA screening

All patients going to hospital for a relevant planned procedure are now offered a simple swab test to see whether they are carrying MRSA.

You will be offered treatment for MRSA to get rid of it if you're found to be carrying the bacteria before you go into hospital.

For more information, see the FAQs in screening for MRSA.

Page last reviewed: 13/06/2013

Next review due: 13/06/2015