If you are a Doctor, Nurse or other medical professionals working in a health care setting, you will be coming into contact with the threat of bacteria every day. Staphylococcus aureus, simply referred to as a “staph” infection, is a type of bacteria that is commonly carried on the skin or in the nose of normally healthy individuals.
Should a patient inadvertently suffer a staph infection while in your care, or as a result of care or treatment you have provided, they could hold you directly responsible and seek compensation via your Medical Malpractice Insurance policy.
How Serious Is It?
Staph bacteria can cause infections that tend to be minor and are treatable with antibiotics. However, some staph infections (called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA) can cause serious infections, are often resilient to antibiotics and can be potentially very dangerous.
Staph infections are more common in health care settings because they are more likely to infect individuals with weak immune systems, including patients recovering from surgery or an illness. However, you can avoid contracting a staph infection, even when working around infected patients, if you take safety precautions.
MRSA skin infections are transmitted most frequently through direct skin-to-skin contact or contact with shared items and surfaces that have come in contact with someone’s infection.
How To Recognise a Staph Infection
Staph infections generally cause skin irritations that resemble pimples or boils and can be red, swollen and painful, and have pus or other drainage.
What To Do In the Event of a Possible Infection
If you suspect a patient has a staph infection you should take immediate action to:
- Make sure their wound is bandaged.
- Always wear gloves when working with or near the patient, and especially when treating the wound itself.
- Make sure any object, equipment or surface the patient touches is cleaned with a detergent-based cleaner or EPA-registered disinfectant. Since these disinfectants can be irritating, read the manufacturers’ instructions and follow them completely to avoid any complications.
- If you suspect your scrubs, uniform or other clothing items have been contaminated, wash with hot water and detergent and dry in a hot dryer.
Preventive measures in the form of risk management and hygiene processes should be standard across your practice. However, these measures must also be passed on to visitors or guests as well as your own staff:
- Keep hands clean by washing them thoroughly and frequently with soap and water.
- If you have a cut or wound, clean and bandage it immediately so that it does not become infected (and encourage co-workers to do the same).
- Cleanse and sanitise your workstation and equipment thoroughly and frequently to prevent the spread of MRSA.
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