MRSA (meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is something that concerns many people, especially those going into hospital.

MRSA is a germ most often carried in the nose and in warm, moist areas such as the armpit and groin.

Normally it is harmless and people will be unaware that they are carrying it, but it can sometimes cause infections, especially in people who are otherwise unwell or who have a wound or a device such as a drip (intravenous line) or a catheter. 

Because MRSA is resistant to (i.e. is not affected by) many common antibiotics, these infections can be hard to treat. Therefore we try to identify those people who are carrying MRSA before they get an infection.

Procedures for MRSA prevention and control

All patients admitted to The Royal Marsden are tested ('screened') for MRSA carriage. This test is normally just a swab taken from inside the nose and from the perineal area. It may also include swabs from other areas.

People who are found to be carrying MRSA will normally be prescribed antiseptic washes, nasal ointment and sometimes mouthwashes, and will be given instructions on how to use these most effectively to stand the best chance of removing the MRSA.

People who are carrying MRSA will normally be cared for in a single room and the staff looking after them will often wear gloves and aprons. This should not be taken personally – it is to make sure that the MRSA doesn’t get accidentally passed on to other patients who may be vulnerable to infection.

There is normally no need to restrict visiting or contact with healthy people although, as always, visitors should wash their hands or use alcohol hand rub as they leave the room.

Further information about MRSA screening can be downloaded below.