I heard this weekend from a woman who read my columns about MRSA. She shared her experience — how she contracted MRSA seven years ago, and a recent experience with surgery. She was frustrated because, for the most recent surgery, she was put on a floor in the hospital that was just for MRSA patients — yet, she felt like they basically ignored MRSA as a potential problem. As an example, she said that she was in the hospital for 24 hours, and in that time, only one person washed her hands, or used the santizing gel when she came into the patient’s room.
As a reminder — MRSA is the superbug — the staph infection, usually acquired in hospitals, that has learned to overcome any antibiotic developed to kill it. It will continue to infect because it can’t be killed. And too often — like 90,000 times in America each year — it’s deadly.
Now — what seems strange about this to me, is this… it was a MRSA floor, meaning, every patient had MRSA. And we already know that MRSA can be spread from any little thing — hands, certainly, or a stethoscope or a TV remote, or the sheets on a bed. Not only can a patient GET MRSA, a patient can TRANSMIT MRSA. So how could any health care worker, in particular, NOT wash his/her hands or use gel — constantly??
Clearly — and I can’t say this strongly enough — we patients have to learn to ask and tell — and insist. If you are in a hospital — regardless of WHY you are there — DO NOT LET ANYONE TOUCH YOU UNLESS THEY HAVE WASHED AND SANITIZED EVERYTHING (hands, objects) FIRST. Period. Then — insist they do so before they leave, too!
If you already have MRSA — you can transmit it, too. People and things can carry MRSA but not even know it — otherwise healthy people, whether they are in the hospital or not, can carry MRSA and have no idea they are doing so. So, to the best of your ability, if you could possibly have MRSA — INSIST OTHERS WASH OR GEL RIGHT AFTER THEY HAVE TOUCHED YOU or anything around you. That’s they only way to make sure someone else doesn’t get it from you.
Scary stuff. I’d hate to think I transmitted a bug that later killed someone, just because I wasn’t watchful and insistent.