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Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus


MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is a strain of Staph bacteria that can cause infection. Antibiotics are used to kill bacteria, but MRSA bacteria are resistant to some of the antibiotics used to treat Staph infections. You are at a higher risk for MRSA if you have cuts, scrapes, or wounds on your skin. A recent hospital stay or antibiotic use also increases your risk of MRSA infection.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


MRSA infections can destroy deeper skin layers and tissues. The infection may spread to other parts of the body through the blood. MRSA may lead to inflammation of the lungs (pneumonia) or tissues that cover the brain and spinal cord (meningitis). You may develop arthritis, a bone infection, or an infection in your heart. These illnesses can be life-threatening and need treatment right away.


  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

  • Vital signs: Caregivers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about your pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your current health.

  • Neurologic exam: A neurologic exam can show caregivers how your brain is working. Caregivers will check how your pupils react to light. They may check your memory and how easily you wake up. Your hand grasp and balance may also be tested.

  • Isolation: You may be put on isolation safety measures to prevent the spread of MRSA to others. Caregivers and visitors may need to wear gloves, a face mask, or a gown. Visitors should wash their hands before they enter and leave your room so they do not spread germs.

  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.


  • Blood tests: Samples of your blood may be tested for signs of inflammation or infection. The blood may be taken from your hand, arm, or IV.

  • Pus or mucus culture: Samples of pus or mucus are tested to find the bacteria causing your infection. This helps caregivers see if your medicines are working.

  • Chest x-ray: This is a picture of your lungs and heart. Caregivers may use the x-ray to look for signs of pneumonia such as abnormal fluid inside the lungs. Chest x-rays may also show abnormal fluid around the heart.

  • CT scan or MRI: These imaging scans use a computer with x-rays or powerful magnets to take pictures of the infected area. They may also show images of the blood vessels and other structures around the infection. You may be given dye, called contrast, before the test. Tell the caregiver if you are allergic to contrast dye or iodine. Remove all jewelry, and tell caregivers if you have any metal in or on your body. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell caregivers if you cannot lie still or are anxious or afraid of closed spaces.

  • Echocardiogram: This test is an ultrasound to check for infection in your heart. Sound waves are used to show the structure, movement, and blood vessels of your heart.

  • Transesophageal echocardiogram: A transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) is an ultrasound done on adults that shows pictures of your heart on a TV-like screen. Caregivers use TEE to check your heart if the MRSA infection has spread to your blood. You will be given medicine to relax you during a TEE. Caregivers put a tube in your mouth that is moved down into your esophagus. The tube has a small ultrasound sensor on the end. Since your esophagus is right next to your heart, your caregiver can see your heart clearly.

  • Lumbar puncture: Caregivers will take a sample of your spinal fluid to test for meningitis. A needle is used to remove fluid from your lower spine.


You may need the following:

  • You may need extra oxygen if your blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. You may get oxygen through a mask placed over your nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in your nostrils. Ask your healthcare provider before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.

  • A ventilator is a machine that gives you oxygen and breathes for you when you cannot breathe well on your own. An endotracheal (ET) tube is put into your mouth or nose and attached to the ventilator. You may need a trach if an ET tube cannot be placed. A trach is a tube put through an incision and into your windpipe.


You may be given an antibiotic that is effective against your MRSA infection. You may need to use antibiotics for weeks or even months to treat some MRSA infections. You may need other medicines depending on where the infection is located and how bad it is. Ask your caregiver for information about the medicines you may need.


  • Incision and drainage: Boils or abscesses may be opened and drained to remove the fluid.

  • Debridement or surgery: Debridement is a procedure to remove dead or infected tissue from more severe wounds. You may need surgery if other treatments are not effective against MRSA or it continues to spread.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (Inpatient Care)