Meticillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus ( MRSA ) Guideline

Publication: 05/01/2010  
Next review: 01/03/2025  
Clinical Guideline
ID: 684 
Approved By: SMT 
Copyright© Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust 2022  


This Clinical Guideline is intended for use by healthcare professionals within Leeds unless otherwise stated.
For healthcare professionals in other trusts, please ensure that you consult relevant local and national guidance.

Meticillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) Guideline

  1. Standard protocol of patient categories to be screened for MRSA
  2. General guidance for MRSA screening
  3. Standard protocol for taxing MRSA screening swabs
  4. Standard protocol for decolonisation
  5. Standard protocol for staff found to be positive for MRSA

Appendix A - Adult Acute Patient MRSA Pathway
Appendix B - Adult Elective Admission Patient MRSA Pathway
Appendix C - Children's MRSA Patient Pathway

Key Points of Guideline

  • For patients who need screening for MRSA please see Standard Protocol No. 1. Patients who are MRSA-positive must be managed in source isolation as outlined in the LTHT Isolation Guideline
  • A targeted MRSA screening approach is in place at LTHT. This strategy is designed so that only patients most likely to be positive for MRSA and/or to have a more severe outcome if infected will be screened.
  • Patients who have previously been MRSA-positive must be managed in source isolation until they have had three full sets of negative MRSA screens since their last MRSA positive result – details of this process are outlined in the Repeat Screening section.
  • It is important that MRSA susceptibility to Mupirocin and Neomycin are checked prior to prescribing decolonisation.
  • If MRSA-positive patients are discharged from or transferred within LTHT, the receiving area must be notified and a transfer form must be completed in line with LTHT policy.
  • All ‘high risk’ patients (see definition) should receive surgical peri-operative antibiotic prophylaxis with an agent with activity against MRSA if they undergo a surgical procedure or other intervention (see definition) where prophylaxis is indicated.
  • All MRSA-positive patients (or their carers) should be provided with an MRSA patient information leaflet.
  • All adult Inpatients to be screened monthly for the duration of their hospital stay.- irrespective if screened on admission.
  • Patients being admitted for elective/day case procedures do not normally require negative screening swabs prior to the procedure being performed. However, it should be checked that they have taken appropriate decolonisation - both in respect of agent and timing. If the patient has not taken/completed appropriate decolonisation, a risk assessment should be made as to whether the procedure should be deferred until the appropriate decolonisation has been completed or the procedure undertaken with the commencement of appropriate decolonisation at the time of the procedure
  • CSUs may have local protocols in addition, or supplementary, to this Trust-wide guidance, which have been agreed with Infection Prevention and Control (IPC), such as when to give “decolonisation”; this should be consulted as appropriate.
  • There are 4 specific patient pathways with respect to MRSA: Adult Acute , Adult Elective, Women’s and Children’s Every patient being admitted should have the appropriate pathway completed. These are available from the print unit to order as non stock items with the following codes: Adult Acute - LTH0079, Adult Elective LTH2196, Childrens LTH2197, the Women’s Pathway has been absorbed into the CSU’s own documentation.
  • Panton-Valentine Leukocidin (PVL) positive Staphylococcus aureus which produces PVL toxin is a specific infection prevention hazard. PVL can be produced both by meticillin sensitive and meticillin resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus There is no high quality evidence to show whether decolonisation is effective at reducing infection or long term carriage of PVL-positive S.aureus low quality evidence available indicates it may not be effective in eradicating carriage or reducing future disease. Patients who are identified as a positive case should be isolated and advice sought on their management from the infection prevention team.

Back to top

Table 1: Summary of MRSA source isolation requirements - patient placement

Pre-admission MRSA screen positive

Admission MRSA screen positive

Source isolation is required - may be discontinued when there have been three negative sets of MRSA screens as described in the Repeat Screening section

Previous MRSA-positive identified on PPM+/ Order Comms (ICE) or from patient at admission

Source isolation is required unless the patient has had three sets of negative screens (see the Repeat Screening section) since the MRSA was identified

Inpatient found MRSA positive  on screening (pre admission, on admission or post admission)

Source isolation is required - may be discontinued when there have been three negative sets of MRSA screens as described in the Repeat Screening section

Patients found MRSA positive in clinical sample(s).

Source isolation is required. This may be discontinued when there have been three negative sets of MRSA screens as described in the Repeat Screening section of this guideline; the decision will also depend on the type of clinical sample(s) that are positive; whether further samples from same site(s) can be obtained, this also includes  if clinical symptoms and signs of infection at those site(s) have resolved. Discussion with IPC is required in this instance  

Back to top

Table 2: Patients who require MRSA decolonisation

Patients admitted for implant surgery - see definitions below

Decolonisation is required in all cases irrespective of MRSA status. Decolonisation should be timed to finish on the day of surgery.

Pre-admission MRSA screen positive

Decolonisation is required in all cases unless  3 separate appropriate decolonisation courses have been completed.  NB if  a patient is due to have surgery, a further decolonisation course will be indicated.

In surgical patients decolonisation should be timed to finish on the day of surgery.

Admission MRSA screen positive

Decolonisation course is required in all cases,  

Previous MRSA-positive identified on PPM+/ Order Comms (ICE) at admission

Decolonisation is required for all patients (irrespective of anticipated length of admission) unless the patient has had a course of decolonisation within the last 14 days or they have completed 3 separate appropriate decolonisation courses. In this case, start a further decolonisation course.

Resident of nursing home or similar long-term care facility  without a previous history of MRSA

MRSA decolonisation is required for all patients, unless had a course of decolonisation within the last 14 days

Patient >65 without a previous history of MRSA

MRSA decolonisation is required for all patients. unless had a course of decolonisation within the last 14 days

MRSA positive inpatient screen

Decolonisation is required in all cases unless 3 separate appropriate decolonisation courses have been completed. In this case, start a further  decolonisation course, and contact IPC for further advice and guidance.

Intensive care admission

MRSA decolonisation is required for all adult patients unless had a course of decolonisation within the last 14 days

Intravascular access device insertion /other procedures.

Patients (adults or children) having a long term vascular access device inserted, should receive decolonisation prior to line insertion irrespective of MRSA status.  The decolonisation should be timed to finish on the day of procedure.

All adults with a central venous access device (e.g. PICC line, Hickman line or temporary CVC)  should receive  daily chlorhexidine washes (or agreed equivalent product) for the duration of their hospital stay or for the  duration of line whichever is the shorter. 

Back to top

Table 3: Summary of specific MRSA decolonisation agents - NB: All persons administering decolonisation MUST understand the importance of completing the course correctly.

Details of patient requiring decolonisation

Nasal decolonisation agent

Hair and body decolonisation agent

  • No previous history of MRSA
  • Previous or current MRSA that is sensitive to mupirocin or low level/intermediate resistant
  • Previous or current MRSA with mupirocin sensitivity unknown

Bactroban® (mupirocin) nasal ointment/cream

 Chlorhexidine 4% bodywash †§ *

  • Previous or current MRSA that is high level resistant to mupirocin but sensitive to neomycin*

Naseptin® (neomycin)* nasal cream

  • Previous or current MRSA that is resistant to both mupirocin and neomycin*

Prontoderm® nasal cream/ointment

*If peanut, chlorhexidine or neomycin allergy: use Prontoderm® (see standard protocol No. 5)
† For children under one: use octenisan® instead
§ If otherwise can’t use chlorhexidine: use octenisan® or Prontoderm®
Detailed information can be found in standard protocol No. 4.

Back to top


To help prevent and control the spread of MRSA within LTHT and to provide a safe environment for all patients, staff and visitors.

Back to top


  • Acute admission – patients admitted directly i.e. in the absence of any planned waiting period; including e.g.  from own home; via GP; via Emergency Department(ED); from out-patient clinic; transfer from another healthcare facility, where an overnight stay (i.e period of at least 12 hours) is anticipated.
  • Bacteraemia – isolation of a bacterium (e.g. MRSA) from a patient’s blood.
  • Carriage – the presence of a micro-organism at a body site on, or in, a patient (either colonisation, or infection).
  • Colonisation – the presence of a micro-organism at a body site on, or in, a patient, not causing “infection”.
  • Decolonisation – the application of antimicrobial substances (e.g. antiseptics +/- antibiotics) in an attempt to reduce MRSA to a safe level   Decolonisation is also used in patients who are considered at higher risk of being MRSA-positive and/or of more severe consequence of an MRSA infection.  
  • Discharge screening – screening carried out in some institutions (not LTHT) within the three days prior to discharge from that institution.
  • Elective admission – a patient admitted following a planned period of waiting, where an overnight stay (i.e period of at least 12 hours) is anticipated.  Admission may be from a waiting list or from being ‘booked’ (i.e. given a date at the time the decision to admit was made). 
  • ‘High risk’ patient - ‘High risk’ patients are those who have a history of MRSA colonisation or infection at any time, patients who are resident in a nursing home or similar long-term care facility, or lived/had healthcare abroad in the last 12 months.   
  • Implant – any non-human foreign body that is placed permanently in a patient during a surgical procedure, which is not routinely manipulated for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes. Examples are joint prostheses, prosthetic heart valves, gastrostomies, screws, wires or meshes that are left permanently in situ. Individual CSUs may have more specific lists of what is, or is not, an “implant” for the purposes of this guideline.
  • Infection – symptoms and signs caused by pathogenic (harmful) micro-organisms. These include local evidence of inflammation (e.g. pain, redness, tenderness, swelling, heat), systemic effects (e.g. fever, low blood pressure and shock) and raised inflammatory markers (e.g. white blood cell count and CRP).
  • Intervention - a diagnostic and/or therapeutic event that causes a break in the skin or mucous membrane.
  • MRSA acquisition: An individual gaining MRSA. This may be detected on screening swabs or from clinical samples. The likely timing of the acquisition may be suggested if a site which was previously negative for MRSA then becomes positive on repeat sampling. 
  • MRSA-positive – MRSA has  been detected in or on a patient, whether infected or colonised,
  • MRSA screening – the process of identifying patients who are MRSA carriers by bacteriological testing
  • Set (of MRSA screening swabs) – MRSA swabs sent on the same day from nose, groin, axilla and any other appropriate sites (see see standard protocol Nos 2 & 3, screening).

Back to top


MRSA is meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. This is a bacterium that is resistant to virtually all β-lactam antibiotics (e.g. flucloxacillin, co-amoxiclav, piperacillin-tazobactam; cephalosporins such as cefuroxime; and carbapenems such as meropenem). MRSA is not normally a significant risk to healthy people including health care workers and visitors, but can cause serious infection in vulnerable patients. MRSA is relatively uncommon compared to S.aureus ,UKHSA surveillance data typically shows that 5-8% of S.aureus isolates are MRSA compared to 92-95% being MSSA

Like other S. aureus strains, MRSA colonises moist or broken skin, in particular the axillae and groin areas. The most common carriage site is the anterior nares (nostrils). MRSA is spread from person to person either by direct or indirect contact. In hospital, MRSA is most commonly spread on the hands of health care workers. Hospital equipment can also be a route of spread if not adequately decontaminated between patients. Patients with MRSA are likely to contaminate objects and the hospital environment in their vicinity. Subsequently this contamination can be transferred to other patients.

The two main risks associated with MRSA-positive patients are:

  • They may be a source of MRSA cross-infection to other patients
  • They are at increased risk of MRSA infection if they undergo invasive procedures

Screening helps identify these patients so that measures can be put in place to reduce these risks. These measures are:

Back to top

Risk Assessment

All LTHT patients must be risk-assessed for MRSA - using the appropriate MRSA pathway.
All ’high risk’ patients should be managed as shown in the Summary tables for Patient Placement and MRSA Decolonisation above.  Requirements for peri-operative prophylaxis in High Risk patients are shown in the Leeds Health Pathways Antimicrobial Guidelines
Paediatric patients are NOT routinely screened for MRSA, unless they fullfill the following criteria:

    1. Cardiac, Surgical, Renal, Liver, Intensive Care Unit, Neonatal specialty;
    2. previous positive MRSA;
    3. if they have lived and/or had healthcare abroad in the previous 12 months.

The definition of an implant is provided above. However, this is not an exhaustive list. The responsibility for determining whether an implant is involved in any specific procedure or if MRSA screening is  otherwise required, resides with the relevant CSU management team (see standard protocol No 1 of patient categories to be screened for MRSA). Relevant members of the IPC team can be consulted for advice if required.

Advice regarding appropriate placement of MRSA-positive and other patients assessed as ‘high-risk’ within out-patient, day-case and other similar settings can be obtained from the IPC team.  In addition it is advised that it is  checked if there are any specific infection prevention and/or microbiology infection advice  notes on patient’s electronic care record (PPM+).

Back to top


Characteristics of the Groups of patients to be screened for MRSA: (See specific MRSA pathways).

  1. All Adult Acute Admissions
  2. All adults and children if previously resided or had healthcare abroad in the past 12 months
  3. All adults and children known to be MRSA positive in past
  4. All adult elective patients admitted to the following areas (with an anticipated overnight stay): Vascular, Renal, Neurosurgery, Cardiothoracic Surgery, Trauma and Orthopaedics, Haemato-Oncology, Critical Care, or for solid organ transplant.
  5. All paediatric patients admitted to the following areas: Cardiac Surgical, Renal, PICU and Neonatal Unit.

In addition to the above:

Adult Critical Care

“Any” admission if not previously screened pre/at current admission

Chapel Allerton Hospital

Follow agreed CAH  (CHOC) pathway

Head & Neck

Follow agreed pathway on Order Comms

Trauma & Related Services

Follow agreed pathway on Order Comms


Maternity: only if baby likely to need Neonatal UnitC. section: all electives (NB screening set is nasal, axillae and self-taken vaginal swab)

Outpatients with long term vascular access devices

Screened pre-insertion and then at 3-monthly intervals

Back to top


Pre-Admission Screening
Screening Results
Repeat Screening
Screening Contacts of MRSA Positive Patients


  • All patients should be given a Patient Information Leaflet, outlining the MRSA screening process and treatment options [WNA1007], and asked for verbal consent to being screened.
  • When indicated, MRSA screening should take place at the earliest appropriate opportunity after a decision has been made to admit a patient. This may be before admission (pre-admission screening) or at the time of admission (admission screening) if not practical at pre-admission.  Other clinical sites (see below) should be done within 48 hours of admission.  It should be clearly documented  if this can not  be undertaken for any reason.
  • MRSA screening should not delay urgent treatment; where immediate intervention is required (e.g. emergency Caesarean section). MRSA screening should be carried out at the earliest safe opportunity, which may be after the intervention. This should, however, ideally take place during the same shift that the patient is admitted.
  • MRSA screening swabs should be taken from anterior nares, groin, axilla;; and,any other clinical sites that would be likely to be colonised in with  MRSA and are likely to be difficult to decolonise . this includes but is not limed to , urine sample from a  urinary catheter, PEG sites, stoma sites, wounds (whether discharging or dry) and all  other areas of broken skin. For planned Caesarean sections - nose, axilla and self-collected vaginal swabs.  Details of how to take screening swabs are given in Standard Protocol No. 3.
  • All MRSA screening swabs should be put in the eSwab tube(s) (see Standard Protocol No. 3) in a single specimen bag and submitted correctly labelled with the screening location and requesting ‘MRSA screening‘. The completed request form must comply with the requirements of the Pathology Labelling Policy. The screening swabs will be processed in the laboratory as a single specimen.  Catheter urine should be sent separately. Submission of MRSA screening specimens should be documented on each  patient’s MRSA pathway.
  • For sites considered to be clinically infected (e.g. erythematous wounds or inflamed sites) additional swabs should be sent to Microbiology on separate request forms, with appropriate clinical details and a request for culture and sensitivity testing.
  • Patients have the right to refuse MRSA screening. In this situation they should be reminded that screening is in the best interests of themselves and other patients.  If the patient continues to refuse, this should be documented in the nursing or clinical notes and the IPC Team should be consulted.  A note should be made in the patient’s medical and nursing notes as to whether there is a history of allergy to any products used in MRSA decolonisation this includes products such as chlorhexidine and  arachis/peanut oil, which is a component of Naseptin®).

Pre-admission screening

For elective admissions, where required, it is carried out at pre-operative assessment clinics.

  • A negative result is valid up to three months before the planned admission date. If it is three months or more since the last MRSA screen it will need to be repeated at or before admission, assuming the patient continues to meet one or more criterion for screening. A positive result will remain “valid” until three subsequent negative screens are obtained.
  • CSUs should have in place a system for informing patients that MRSA has been detected at pre-admission screening (if performed) and that decolonisation is required. This will usually be prescribed by the patient’s GP.
  • If the patient undergoes decolonisation therapy consider repeat MRSA screening two to three days following the therapy to determine whether decolonisation was successful .Do not delay a surgical procedure if the patient still tests positive.
  • If the patient clearly states that they were MRSA-positive in another organisation, they should be managed as if they had been found  MRSA-positive within LTHT.

Screening results

  • Screening results are available 24 - 48 hrs after the sample is received in the laboratory, and released to PPM+/ Order Comms (ICE) as soon as the test is complete.
  • It is the responsibility of the requestor to check results; they will not normally be telephoned.
  • Results must be documented on the each patient’s MRSA pathway. Please refer to summary tables for actions to be taken with a positive result.
  • Positive results are usually reported with a comment recommending which agent to use. Most isolates are mupirocin sensitive. Where resistance to mupirocin is reported an alternative agent should be used - see Table 3.  NB if patient is MRSA positive it is imperative to check sensitivity results and manage accordingly.
  • All patients with positive MRSA screens should be given the relevant Patient Information Leaflet, which gives information about the implications of MRSA and how they will be treated [WNA1007].
  • Patients who are MRSA positive on screening need to have 3 consecutive negative screening sets after completing decolonisation. The patient should remain in source isolation until three complete sets of negative MRSA screens have been received.
  • If a patient is MRSA-positive from a “clinical” site  such as sputum, wound or urine, then the risk assessment also needs to take into account additional factors such as the site(s) that were positive and if they are “hard to decolonise” successfully, whether repeat specimens are obtainable and if there is on-going clinical evidence of infection. Normally IPC agreement is appropriate before stopping source isolation.  Check if any relevant advice is recorded on PPM+.

Repeat screening

  • MRSA-positive patients have to be re-screened to confirm effective decolonisation.
  • Post-decolonisation screening requirements are as follows:
    • There must be a gap of at least two days between completing MRSA decolonisation and submitting the first post-decolonisation sample set.
    • Three consecutive sets of MRSA screens must be taken from all appropriate sites as described above.  There must be a gap of two days between each set of MRSA screens.
    • If a patient was positive from a clinical sample, repeat sample(s) from the same site(s) should also be sent whenever possible.
    • MRSA screens are counted as negative only if antibiotics with activity against MRSA and/or topical decolonisation agents have not been administered during post-decolonisation period.  Ward medical staff should be consulted if it is unclear whether or not anti-MRSA antibiotics have been in use. If a patient is on such agent(s), clearance screening needs to be deferred until the patient is no longer on such agent(s). 
  • If three consecutive sets of decolonisation screens are negative the patient may be removed from source isolation provided there is no evidence of on-going infection/colonisation of a clinical site.
  • Patients should be screened monthly for the duration of their hospital stay – irrespective whether they were screened pre- / on admission. This should be done when due, regardless of whether the patient is receiving topical or systemic anti-MRSA agent(s).
  • If at any time a re-screen is positive, or a patient becomes MRSA-positive in a clinical sample, they should be managed in source isolation and decolonised and re-screened as described above.

Screening contacts of MRSA-positive patients

There is no requirement to screen any patients who have been in the same bay as a patient subsequently identified to be MRSA-positive.  However, should a patient become newly MRSA-positive during a hospital admission (either on screening or in a clinical sample) when previously classified as MRSA-negative, then a DATIX form should be completed for this event. If two or more such acquisitions occur within one month, then the incidents should be investigated as a potential  outbreak [see Outbreak guidelines]

Back to top


Procedure for taking MRSA Screening Swabs

Following the introduction of a new automated platform in the Microbiology Laboratory, new swabs have been introduced for use for MRSA screening, as detailed below. 

Packs for MRSA screening will contain either 2 or 3 swabs and one container; (this picture shows the two swab pack. The 3 swab pack has an additional pink shafted swab)

The pink swabs do not have a breaking point. They should be used to swab one site and then are rotated in the liquid before discarding into a clinical waste bin. The white swab is then used for the last site and then broken into the liquid medium. The white swab contains preservatives so it is important it is this swab that remains in the tube.

One pink swab would be used for axilla, one for groin and then the third white swab for the nose. If screening additional areas that hard to decolonise  e.g. such as wounds, lacerations, pressure ulcers, indwelling vascular access devices. Please use additional pack(s) with the requsite number of swabs.For neonates, one pink swab can be used for both the axilla and the umbilicus provided there is no evidence of infection.

If an infected site is to be screened then a separate pack should be used with a further screen request.

For Caesarean section, nose/axilla and one pink swab for a self-taken vaginal swab.

Back to top



Patients who require MRSA decolonisation - see summary information at start of guideline.

  • The MRSA decolonisation regimen should be prescribed as detailed on the prescription chart ( eMeds). In most cases this will consist of mupirocin nasal ointment (Bactroban®) three times per day for five days; and 4% chlorhexidine body wash daily with hair wash on days1 & 5.
  • If the patient, or a carer, is administering, it is important that they understand and adhere to the application instructions and complete the course.  
  • In cases of mupirocin resistance and/or allergy or intolerance to Bactroban®, Naseptin® nasal ointment is usually used. Note that a course of Naseptin® lasts for 10 days, and it is administered four times daily.
  • Skin decolonisation with chlorhexidine should take place on the same days as nasal decolonisation with Bactroban®.   If Naseptin®  is being used then the chlorhexidine  course is for 10 days, with hair washing days 1,5 and 10.  If nasal decolonisation is repeated, skin decolonisation should also be repeated.
  • In cases where it is not possible to use either Bactroban® or Naseptin®, Prontoderm® should be used. Prontoderm® is administered to the anterior nares three times daily for five days.
  • In cases where it is not possible to use chlorhexidine bodywash e.g. due to skin irritation or allergy, or Prontoderm® or  Octenisan® should be used instead.
  • MRSA decolonisation is repeated whenever follow-up MRSA screens are positive again or if the patient becomes MRSA-positive in a subsequent clinical sample, irrespective of the time after the previous course was completed.
  • Some patients will remain MRSA-positive despite multiple courses of decolonisation. Patients who are still MRSA-positive after three complete  decolonisation regimens using the appropriate agents should not normally receive further decolonisation unless undergoing a surgical procedure (NB: specialty-specific policies may differ from this, e.g. Renal Dialysis, Neonatal and Haemato-Oncology).
  • The effectiveness of vaginal MRSA decolonisation has not been established and it is not recommended at LTHT. If MRSA is isolated from a vaginal swab during pregnancy, the mother should be decolonised as soon as possible.  After delivery, the baby should be screened and both baby and mother (again)  decolonised as soon as possible irrespective of result. Both mother and baby will require source isolation during their hospital stay.  N.B. An MRSA positive patient having a Caesarean section should receive peri-operative antibiotic prophylaxis which includes an anti-MRSA agent - see guideline on Leeds Health Pathways.
  • If an operation is delayed but takes place within 14 days of completing decolonisation, decolonisation should not be repeated. However, if the delay is 14 days or more, decolonisation should be repeated.
  • If an MRSA-positive surgical patient is found at admission not to have started decolonisation, it should be started  at the earliest opportunity prior to an operation. The operation can usually still go ahead.
  • If a positive MRSA result becomes known after discharge, this should be communicated to the patient’s GP by the ward team, with a recommendation that the patient commences a full MRSA decolonisation regimen.  It has been agreed with primary care (within the Leeds Health Economy) that decolonisation will be prescribed by the GP. It is ultimately the responsibility of the patient’s named consultant at the time of sampling to ensure that the patient’s GP has been informed of the positive result.
  • Post-decolonisation screening is not normally required unless the patient is re-admitted and it  is specified as a requirement in a CSU surgical pathway


Colonisation/infection with MRSA is not a contraindication to discharge to nursing home/residential care, or transfer within LTHT or to other hospitals/healthcare providers.

Nursing Home If a patient who has been found to be positive for MRSA is discharged to the care of a nursing or residential home or a district nurse then his/her MRSA status must be communicated prior to the transfer/ discharge, and documented clearly in the patient’s discharge sheet. The information must also be communicated to the ambulance crew transferring the patient. A transfer form should be completed as specified in the LTHT Transfer Policy, which must include information on MRSA status.

Within LTHT: If a patient with current or previous MRSA is transferred within LTHT the receiving ward must be informed of MRSA status, the LTHT Transfer and hand over of care procedure should be followed, and the patient should be isolated unless he/she has previously had three sets of negative screens and the current admission screen and/or most recent inpatient screen is negative.

If a patient is being transferred to another hospital trust or healthcare provider the MRSA status must be communicated to the receiving facility prior to the transfer occurring. A transfer form should be completed as specified in the LTHT Transfer and ahnd over of care procedure  which must include information on MRSA status.

On occasions other hospital trusts may require evidence of MRSA clearance or past screening results. If this is requested please check PPM+/ORDER COMMS (ICE).

If a patient is discharged whilst he/she is being decolonised, either as a result of a positive MRSA screen or because he/she is in a ‘High Risk Group’, decolonisation should be completed.

Back to top


Staff found incidentally to be colonised with MRSA

Staff may be found positive through being screened for MRSA as part of the LTHT elective or acute admission screening pathways.

  • The staff member should be referred immediately to the Occupational Health Service (OHS). He/she will need to be assessed for the presence of possible MRSA-disseminating lesions (e.g. wounds, eczematous lesions etc.). If present these will be investigated and treated accordingly.
  • Assuming no such lesions, the staff member should commence a course of appropriate MRSA decolonisation regimen, and the need to observe good standards of hand hygiene will be reiterated. There is no requirement for the staff member to take time off work. However, following decolonisation, they will need to be rescreened as outlined in the Repeat Screening section above.
  • If the staff member was scheduled for elective surgery, follow the appropriate guidance.

Staff found to be colonised with MRSA through Occupational Health screening
Staff may be found positive through being screened for MRSA as part of the OHS requirements of other employers (e.g. following job offers or prior to work placements). Actions taken will be the same as in the section above. Any additional actions required should be arranged by the organisation that requested the MRSA screening.

Staff found to be positive for MRSA during an outbreak investigation
A decision may be made to screen staff for MRSA as part of an investigation into a possible MRSA outbreak, following unusually high levels of MRSA in a clinical area, or, rarely, following known contact with MRSA. In most situations screening samples will be taken from anterior nares and any areas of broken skin:

  • In this situation it is compulsory for staff to be screened, as an unscreened staff member may continue to act as a source of MRSA infection in patients.
  • The Outbreak Control Team should ensure that the clinical and non-clinical leads responsible for the clinical area(s) act as positive role models and take on the responsibility of providing their staff with information regarding the screening process (with IPC Team and OHS support), communicate to staff why the screening is essential, the need for all staff to positively comply with screening and the process for supporting staff who test MRSA-positive
  • A list of staff requiring screening must be agreed by the Outbreak Control Team and supplied to OHS in a secure form - see form below.
  • The screening process is co-ordinated by OHS, and carried out jointly by the IPC Team and OHS. It may include peer-testing and/or self-testing. If screening is carried out at the workplace it should be done at start-of-shift, to avoid detecting transient carriage.
  • Request forms must be filled in with the location specified as OHS, so that results are returned to OHS only and not the clinical area, and do not appear on PPM+/Order Comms (ICE).
  • OHS will maintain a secure database of results, which will be shared only with the Chair of the Outbreak Control Team.
  • All Staff found positive will be assessed for the presence of possible MRSA-disseminating lesions (e.g. wounds, eczematous lesions etc.). If present these will be investigated and treated accordingly. The presence of hand lesions may require a longer period off work than for colonisation “alone”.
  • Assuming no such lesions, the staff member will receive a complete course of the appropriate MRSA decolonisation regimen, and the need to observe good standards of hand hygiene will be reiterated.
  • The staff member will refrain from work that involves contact with patients or their environment for the first 48 hrs of decolonisation. This may require absence from work.
  • Staff will be re-screened as outlined in the Repeat Screening section above. If negative after three re-screens they will be considered to be clear of MRSA.
  • If a re-screen is positive for MRSA staff will receive a further course of appropriate decolonisation, again avoiding clinical work for the first 48 hours. Rescreening will again follow the process outlined in the Repeat Screening section above. If they remain MRSA-positive at this stage an individual plan will be agreed following discussion between an OHS consultant, the staff member and the Lead IPC Doctor (or deputy) on a case-by-case basis.

Staff found to be positive for MRSA during investigation of an infected lesion
Staff may be found to be positive for MRSA during investigation of an infected lesion (usually a skin lesion), either by their own doctor or OHS.

  • If the staff member becomes aware of this through medical care other than OHS, he/she should report this to OHS.
  • OHS will contribute to the staff member’s investigation and treatment, liaising with other medical staff as appropriate.
  • Decisions relating to decolonisation, screening and removal from clinical contact will depend on individual circumstances and will be made in consultation with the Lead IPCD (or deputy).

OHS should inform the IPC Team of the name and work location of any MRSA-positive staff member so that recent MRSA data from his/her clinical area can be checked to see if there might be associated MRSA cases that had not been flagged as a possible outbreak. Subsequent IPC actions will depend on the results of this investigation.

Staff Who Have come into Contact with Confirmed Cases of MRSA

Back to top


Record: 684

To provide evidence-based recommendations for appropriate interventions to prevent and control the spread of MRSA within LTHT

Clinical condition:

Meticillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)

Target patient group: All patients at LTHT
Target professional group(s): Secondary Care Doctors
Secondary Care Nurses
Allied Health Professionals
Adapted from:

Evidence base

  • Department of Health expert advisory committee on Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infection (ARHAI). Implementation of modified admission MRSA screening guidance for NHS (2014). Department of Health.
  • Department of Health. Screening Emergency Admissions for MRSA - FAQs (April 2010)
  • Loveday H. P. et al. epic3: National Evidence-Based Guidelines for Preventing Healthcare-Associated Infections in NHS Hospitals in England.  Journal of Hospital Infection 2014: 86: S1–S70
  • Karki S. and Cheng A.C. Impact of non-rinse skin cleansing with chlorhexidine gluconate on prevention of healthcare-associated infections and colonization with multi-resistant organisms: a systematic review Journal of Hospital Infection, 2012; 82:71-84
  • Coia J.E et al Joint Healthcare Infection Society (HIS) and the Infection Prevention Society (IPS) guidelines for the prevention and control of Meticillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in healthcare facilities , Journal of Hospital Infection, 118 (2021) S1-S39
  • Health Protection Agency. Guidance on the diagnosis and management of PVL-associated Staphyococcus aureus infections (PVL-SA) in England (2008)

Back to top

Approved By


Document history

LHP version 2.0

Related information

Appendix A - Adult Acute

Back to top

Appendix B - Adult Elective Admission

Back to top

Appendix C - Childrens

Back to top

Equity and Diversity

The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is committed to ensuring that the way that we provide services and the way we recruit and treat staff reflects individual needs, promotes equality and does not discriminate unfairly against any particular individual or group.