Preventing MRSA infection
Hospital staff, patients and hospital visitors can take simple hygiene measures to prevent the spread of MRSA and stop infection.
Most patients who need to be admitted to hospital will have MRSA screening before they're admitted, plus treatment for MRSA to remove any bacteria found on their skin.
This can significantly reduce the risk of becoming infected with MRSA in hospital, but there are still some things you can do to reduce your risk further. These include:
- always washing your hands after using the toilet or commode (many hospitals now routinely offer hand wipes)
- always washing your hands or cleaning them with a hand wipe immediately before and after eating a meal
- following any advice you're given about wound care and devices that could lead to infection (such as urinary catheters)
- reporting any unclean toilet or bathroom facilities to staff – don't be afraid to talk to staff if you're concerned about hygiene
If you notice any signs of infection – such as swelling, pus or a high temperature (fever) – after going home, contact the hospital clinic, your GP or NHS 111 for advice.
Read more information and advice about staying in hospital.
If you're visiting someone in hospital, you can reduce the chance of spreading MRSA by cleaning your hands before and after entering the ward. You should also use hand wipes or hand gel before touching the person you're 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, read about NHS hospital services for visitors.
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 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 it is strictly necessary.
These steps aim to reduce the chance of patients infecting themselves and others.
For more information, see MRSA: a guide for nursing staff (PDF, 450kb), by the Royal College of Nursing.
Preventing MRSA outside of hospital
The following advice may reduce your risk of catching or passing on MRSA outside of hospital:
- Regularly wash your hands and have frequent baths or showers.
- Keep your fingernails short and clean, because bacteria can grow under long nails.
- Don't share any products that come into contact with your skin, such as soaps, lotions, creams and cosmetics.
- Don't share unwashed towels.
- Don't 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.
- Keep any cuts, wounds or breaks in your skin clean and covered until they heal
Read more information about preventing germs from spreading and keeping your home clean.
Page last reviewed: 28/04/2015
Next review due: 28/05/2017