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Indiana Department of Labor

DOL > Worker Safety Initiatives > Healthcare Worker Safety and Health > Welcome to the Healthcare Safety Blog! > MRSA Blog 05/06/2013 MRSA Blog 05/06/2013

Last time we talked in general about how our Hoosier healthcare workers were getting sick and injured in the workplace.

Today, we’re going to start focusing on some specific problems and what you can do to help keep your work safe.                                                                                                                                                                   

On the news during over last few years you’ve probably heard about drug resistant infections or super bugs. Those terms refer to a variety of different bacteria types that have become less responsive to antibiotics over the years. Basically, it means our standard treatments like Penicillin might not kill the infection.

One of the biggest culprits in healthcare is known as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. It’s quite a mouthful, so most people just say MRSA. MRSA is essentially an extra tough staph infection. Generally, that means a skin infection, but it could affect any organ.

Staph bacteria live on our skin all the time and are transmitted by touch. It’s normally not a problem, but if someone has a cut, scratch or sore on his or her skin and is exposed to MRSA – that person can end up with a drug resistant infection. And it’s important to note that MRSA is not the only resistant bacteria out there.    
Even though there are a number of super bugs which have developed over the years, healthcare workers can fight them all the same way – hand sanitation. Wash your hands in soap and water, or use a waterless, alcohol-based sanitizer and you will kill off the bacteria.

If you work in healthcare, you probably know constant hand washing can irritate your skin. When someone’s hands are cracked and dry, he or she tends to stop washing them as often – which is not what you want to happen.

Ask your hospital or healthcare administration about approved hand lotions. Many commercial products include strong scents and dyes and are not sterilized, but hospital grade lotions may be available. Even using the approved lotion twice a day can make a serious difference in your skin health and make washing your hands often easier on your skin.

If you’d like to learn more, you can read the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Guide for Hand Hygiene in Health-Care Settings located at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5116a1.htm

Stay Safe
Indiana Department of Labor