Vancomycin Resistant Enterococcus


  • Vancomycin resistant enterococcus (VRE) is a type of germ called bacteria. VRE bacteria can cause infections in your body. Antibiotic medicines are used to kill germs. When the germ enterococcus becomes resistant to (not killed by) the antibiotic vancomycin, it is called VRE. Enterococcus is normally found in your digestive tract, including your intestines and bowel. Enterococcus is also found in the female genital tract, including the uterus (womb) and vagina. A person may carry the VRE germ, but not get infected or sick. A carrier of VRE can give it to other people and make them sick.

  • VRE infections spread easily from person to person. People are most often infected with VRE in the hospital, but can also become infected outside the hospital. VRE may cause an infection in your skin, urinary tract, blood, heart, or brain. Signs and symptoms of a VRE infection may include fever, joint and muscle pain, and problems when you urinate. You may have tests on your skin, blood, urine, or bowel movements (BMs) to learn if you have VRE. Treatment may include medicine and germ-killing baths. Washing your hands often and taking other measures can help prevent spreading VRE to other people. With treatment, signs and symptoms, such as a fever, back pain, and problems when you urinate, may decrease. With treatment, infected wounds may heal and prevent the infection from spreading in your body.


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.


  • Certain treatments may dry your skin. Antibiotic medicine given in an IV may cause pain, redness, and swelling. Antibiotic medicines used to treat a VRE infection may cause itchy skin, a rash, throat swelling, and trouble breathing. Antibiotics may cause nausea (upset stomach), diarrhea, and kidney or liver problems. You may have muscle or joint pain. The antibiotics may not kill the VRE germs, and your infection may get worse.

  • If your VRE infection is not treated, it can get worse. The infection may spread to your urinary tract, blood, or brain. The bacteria may infect the lining and valves of your heart. Organs in your body may stop working. If you do not get treatment for a VRE infection, you may die. Talk with your caregiver if you have questions or concerns about your VRE infection or treatment.


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.


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


You may be put on isolation safety measures if you have an infection or disease that may be given to others. Caregivers and visitors may need to wear gloves, a face mask, or a gown. Visitors should wash their hands before leaving to keep from spreading germs.


  • Antibiotic medicine: You may be given antibiotics to treat your VRE infection.

  • Chlorhexidine baths: Caregivers may give you chlorhexidine baths each day to prevent your VRE infection from spreading. Chlorhexidine is a germ-killing liquid that can kill bacteria on your skin. During a chlorhexidine bath, your caregiver will wash your body from the neck down.


  • Blood tests: You may need blood taken to give caregivers information about how your body is working. The blood may be taken from your hand, arm, or IV.

  • Cultures: Your caregiver may swab the area around your anus, or just inside your rectum, to check for infection. Your rectum holds your BMs until they pass out of your body through your anus. Your caregiver may also swab your skin or a wound to check for a VRE infection. A sample of your BM or urine may also be tested for VRE. You may have cultures taken more than once to check if your treatment is working.

© 2014 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 Vancomycin Resistant Enterococcus (Inpatient Care)