A new study looking at MRSA transmission in nursing homes found that there is a substantial risk of transmission of MRSA from MRSA-positive nursing home residents to healthcare workers in nursing home settings. The study further found that, the activities that precipitated the highest risk of MRSA transfer is not during activities that involve overt contact with "body fluids, skin breakdown, or mucous membranes," but rather "high-contact activities of daily living confer the highest risk."
MRSA Transmission in Nursing Homes
The study looked at 13 community-based nursing homes in Maryland and Michigan. There were 403 participants in the study, 103 of which had MRSA. The goal of the observational study "was intended to estimate the frequency of MRSA transmission to gowns and gloves worn by healthcare workers ("HCWs") interacting with nursing home residents to improve infection prevention policies in nursing homes."
- HCW glove contamination was higher than gown contamination (24% vs. 14%)
- Transmission rates varied greatly based on the type of care.
- "Residents with chronic skin breakdown had significantly higher rates of gown and glove contamination."
- "5% of glove and gown interactions were MRSA positive during HCW interactions with residents not colonized with MRSA."
- "High-risk activities included dressing, transferring, providing hygiene, changing linens, and toileting the resident."
Perhaps the most important finding was that these high-risk activities for MRSA transmission are all considered daily living activities. Currently, the CDC does not recommend that gowns and gloves be worn during these activities. The study’s authors suggested that this may signify "the need to modify current CDC standards of care involving the use of gowns and gloves because under standard precautions."
MRSA is a form or the bacterium commonly known as Staph, and it is highly resistant to many of the antibiotics used to treat Staph. It can cause skin infections, blood infections, and pneumonia, which can be fatal if not treated.