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Date: 30 September 2023

Time: 16:24

MRSA screening

Keeping you safe from MRSA at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB)

"The Department of Health for England requires all NHS trusts to screen patients who are admitted for relevant elective treatment for MRSA. I am pleased to be able to confirm that University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust is more than fully compliant with this requirement. We also screen all emergency inpatients. I am confident that this enhanced infection prevention activity will result in safer care for all our patients."

Dame Julie Moore, Chief Executive

Who is this information for?

Patients coming for treatment at Queen Elizabeth or Selly Oak hospitals.

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What this page tells you

This page tells you what UHB is doing to stop you from getting MRSA when you come into our hospitals. UHB is committed to reducing infections in our hospitals and providing our patients with the best quality care. One important part of our strategy to reduce the risk of MRSA infection is our MRSA screening programme.

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What is MRSA?

MRSA stands for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

For more information on MRSA, please see the related links section.

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Screening for MRSA at UHB

This is how we find out if you are colonised with (carry) MRSA. If we can find out who is carrying MRSA on their skin before they come into hospital we can treat them. When people get treated for MRSA before they have their operation they recover much better, and the chances of other patients becoming infected are greatly reduced.

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Who needs to be screened for MRSA?

All patients admitted to UHB, including those having day case surgery or other day case treatments will be screened for MRSA. The only exceptions are patients who are going to have endoscopy, minor surgery for "lumps and bumps" or eye surgery.

Some patients who regularly attend (for example those on kidney dialysis) will be screened at regular intervals rather than on every admission.

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How will I be screened for MRSA?

We can find out if you are carrying MRSA by taking a sample from the inside of your nose, from your groin and from your throat. We may also take a sample from any ulcers or wounds you have. This test is painless.

If you are going to have day surgery you will usually be screened in a pre-surgery assessment clinic by a nurse. You will receive a phone call from clinic if the result is positive. We will also inform you what to do next. Therefore it is very important to leave a reliable phone number in clinic.

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How long do the results take?

It usually takes between three and five working days for the swab results.

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What if I have MRSA?

If you are found to be carrying MRSA, do not worry! You are unlikely to suffer any harm or infect anyone else. It is only a risk to family members if they themselves are expecting to have an operation in the near future. If you are worried about MRSA, talk to the clinic nurse, or your GP or practice nurse.

If you are colonised with MRSA you will be usually be moved to a single room on the ward, if one is available.

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Treatment for MRSA

Your doctor or nurse will tell you what you need to do. You can come to UHB to collect your medicines or you may instead contact your GP to receive the prescription. The treatment involves washing your hair and skin with special soap and changing all your clothes, sheets and pillowcases every day for five days. In most cases this works very well.

The treatment should continue until the day of your surgery, or until the five days is complete. If your operation is delayed for more than a few days, the process will have to be restarted five days before the new expected date. You should not need to be screened again before your surgery unless there has been a gap of more than two weeks between being tested positive for MRSA and the date of your surgery.

You do not need to stay in hospital while you are being treated unless you are unable to manage the treatment yourself. MRSA cannot be cleared from open wounds, so if you have any cuts or wounds you need to cover these with a dressing during the treatment and when you are in hospital. Your doctor will discuss this with you.

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Side effects of treating MRSA

The treatment has few side effects and these are mild. If you develop a rash, stop treatment and ask your clinic nurse or doctor for advice.

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