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Learning About MDRO Colonization

What is an MDRO colony?

MDRO stands for multidrug-resistant organism. MDRO germs, called bacteria, include MRSA, VRE, ESBL, and KPC. These can all cause infections. But they can't be killed by many of the antibiotics that doctors use to treat infections. This makes them harder to treat.

An MDRO colony is a group of living MDRO germs. If you are colonized with an MDRO, these germs are living on or in your body. You may not be sick with an infection, but you can spread the germs. In some people, like those who are weak or ill, MDRO infections can become serious.

How can you prevent the spread of an MDRO?

If you have an MDRO colony and go to the hospital for treatment, the hospital staff will work hard to keep the MDRO germs from spreading from you to others.

  • Testing. Your doctor may swab the inside of your nose, or some other place on your body, and send the sample to a lab. The lab will grow the germs. Then they will test it to see which antibiotics can kill them. Some hospitals test all patients. You are more likely to be tested if:
    • You had an MDRO infection in the past.
    • You will be in the intensive care unit.
    • You have been a patient in a hospital in the past year.
    • You are going to work in a hospital or clinic.
  • Antibiotics. Your doctor may try to get rid of the MDRO by giving you one or more antibiotics.
  • Isolation. Your doctor may want to keep you away from other people in the hospital. You may be in a special hospital room, called an isolation room. Visitors may be limited to prevent the MDRO germs from being carried outside your room. Children, pregnant women, people who are ill, and some others might not be allowed into the room, as they can be more likely to get a serious infection.
  • Hand-washing. Everyone who comes in the room will need to wash their hands with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, to help stop the germs from spreading. When washing:
    • Wash your hands with running water and soap.
    • Rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds.
    • Pay special attention to your wrists, the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your fingernails.
    • Don't touch the faucet with your hand. Use a paper towel to turn off the water.
  • Gloves and gown. Visitors and caregivers may have to use disposable gloves and a gown over their clothes. This helps prevents the MDRO germs from spreading.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

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