SEATTLE, Nov. 17, 2008 -- Protecting our patients and staff is Swedish's No. 1 priority. That is why we take precautions to prevent the spread of MRSA, including screening people at risk for the illness and isolating them if they test positive or are known carriers of MRSA. These are precautions we've had in place for years. The most important thing you can do to protect yourself and others is practice good hand hygiene.
Given recent news coverage of the infectious disease MRSA, you may have questions about what Swedish is doing to prevent its spread. We have prepared the following Q&A to answer some of those questions:
What is MRSA and should I be worried about it?
MRSA (or Methicillin-resistant S. aureusis) is a type of skin infection, or staph bacteria, that is resistant to certain types of antibiotics. Because this bacteria exists in the community and is infectious, it is important to take measures to prevent it, such as frequent hand washing and keeping cuts and abrasions clean and covered.
What is Swedish doing to prevent the spread of MRSA?
The health and safety of our patients is the No. 1 priority for Swedish, and we take important precautions to prevent the spread of MRSA and other infectious diseases. For example, we screen all patients who fit a risk profile for MRSA and isolate patients if they test positive or are known to have the illness. We have been taking these steps for several years.
What can patients and families do to protect themselves and others?
The most important thing all of us can do is to frequently wash our hands or sanitize them with alcohol gel. At Swedish, we have a clear hand-hygiene policy that requires all nurses, physicians and other staff to wash or gel their hands before and after every patient contact.
Patients and families can help by reminding visitors to sanitize their hands before entering a patient room. Also, if you don't see your caregivers sanitizing their hands when they enter your room, please remind them.
Remember, it's ok to ask your caregiver if they've sanitized their hands. This is one way patients can partner with us on this important patient-safety initiative.
Where can I get more information about MRSA?