The Super Bug Scuttlebutt Show No MRSA

Prevent MRSA infections from spreading by washing your hands and practicing appropriate antibiotic use.

In fact, New York Giants tight end Daniel Fells is fighting a case of MRSA so severe he might need his foot amputated.

But what exactly is MRSA, and what is Intermountain Healthcare doing to keep infectious diseases like it from spreading within its hospitals?

MRSA is a type of bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus, often found on the skin, which is resistant to several antibiotics. Getting infected with MRSA or other infectious diseases can happen when bacteria from a wound or from skin comes in contact with an invasive device such as an IV line or a urinary catheter.

According to Marti VanderHoeven, Infection Preventionist for Intermountain Healthcare's South Region, Intermountain has protocols in place that help keep any kind of disease from spreading while in the hospital.

Keep Infections from Spreading

Wash. Your. Hands.
The simple act of cleaning your hands is the most effective way to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Fifteen seconds of washing hands with soap and water, or sanitizing with an alcohol-based hand rub, is ideal. Caregivers should wash or sanitize before and after every patient visit.

Gown and gloves — an added layer of prevention
Because MRSA can be colonized on the skin without causing an active infection, caregivers may take "contact precautions" to prevent the bacteria from spreading to other patients. Contact precautions include wearing a gown and gloves when caring for patients, and are typically taken when health records show that the patient has a history of MRSA.

Appropriate Antibiotic Use

MRSA is resistant to several of the common antibiotics used to treat infections. According to a Centers for Disease Control report, more than two million Americans contract antibiotic-resistant infections every year. Up to 50 percent of all the antibiotics prescribed for people are not needed or are not prescribed appropriately.

VanderHoeven explains Intermountain has many experts and skilled pharmacists who work to administer the right antibiotics appropriately and safely, and only when they're needed to treat infection. This process is also known as antibiotic stewardship.

"It's important for everyone to understand that the misuse of antibiotics can create bacteria which are resistant to treatment. The best ways for people to prevent the spread of antibiotic resistant infections are to always finish the course of their prescribed antibiotics, and most importantly, to wash hands or use hand sanitizer frequently," says VanderHoeven.