MDROs are organisms that are resistant to typical antibacterial treatments. An MDRO infection is potentially life threatening. MRSA is one type of MDRO.
About 3 million people per year in the United States experience an infection due to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. These potentially life threatening infections require quick identification and special treatment.
“MDRO” stands for “multidrug-resistant organism.” Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is one type of MDRO. You may have been tested for MRSA if you’ve had a surgical procedure in a hospital.
This article provides more information about MDROs and MRSA, including risk factors, screening, and treatment.
MDROs are bacteria and other organisms that are resistant to one or more antimicrobial treatments.
Examples of MDROs include:
- vancomycin-resistant Enterococci (VRE)
- Candida kruseii
- carbapenem-resistant gram-negative organisms (such as carbapene-resistant Enterobacteriaceae and carbapenem-resistant Pseudomonas)
- extended-spectrum β-lactamase producing gram-negative bacteria
- have a weakened immune system (which may occur in people with cancer or preterm infants) or broken skin
- are staying in a hospital or have a family member who recently did (especially if a long hospital stay is involved)
- use a feeding tube, central venous line, or urinary catheter
- have needed antibiotics (including in-hospital antibiotics) in the last 12 months
MRSA is a type of staph bacteria that is resistant to many of the antibiotics typically used to treat staph infections.
This bacteria may be spread through sharing personal objects such as towels and razors or through close personal contact. But you can develop a MRSA infection only if MRSA enters your body and spreads.
MRSA infections tend to happen in people who are staying in hospitals, but they are becoming more common in generally healthy people. As with many other MDROs, you are more likely to experience an MRSA infection if you have a weakened immune system or a break in your skin.
If you’re showing signs of an infection and have risk factors for an MDRO, your doctor may recommend that you get tested.
You may also need to be screened for MDROs if you’re being admitted to the hospital for certain procedures or if you’re working or living in a facility where someone has been found to have colonized MDROs (germs living in or on their body) or an MDRO infection.
To screen or test for MDROs, healthcare professionals may use swabs, blood, or urine samples. They may swab a wound, your nose, your groin, or your rectum. The exact method and location of any samples taken will depend on the MDRO they suspect.
Screening for MRSA can be done by swabbing open wounds or the inside of your nose. Samples can also be taken by drawing blood from your arm or by collecting urine. No special preparation is necessary before these samples are taken. Laboratory results are usually available in 24–48 hours.
Screening for MRSA and other MDROs is low risk. Any discomfort is typically minor and temporary. If a healthcare professional draws blood, you may experience bruising where they inserted the needle.
If you have MRSA, treatment may include special antibiotics and procedures to address complications such as abscesses. For a mild MRSA infection, you may be able to take special antibiotics in oral tablet form. But more severe MRSA infections may require intravenous (IV) antibiotics given in a hospital.
It’s important to use antibiotics only as prescribed to avoid developing antibacterial resistance.
Good hygiene practices, such as washing your hands often and keeping wounds covered until they heal, are important steps to reduce the risk of contracting or transmitting MDROs. It’s also important to clean surfaces and objects with products that will kill these organisms.
MDROs such as MRSA are potentially life threatening and are present all around the world. It’s important to protect yourself from infections if you have an increased risk of MDRO exposure due to staying in a hospital or having a weakened immune system.
Screening for MDROs can be done with swabs, blood work, or urine samples.
If MDRO is causing an infection, it’s important to start treatment quickly. Treatment may include special IV antibiotics and procedures to treat any related health complications.