Multidrug-resistant organisms (MRO)
Antibiotic resistance amongst bacteria that commonly cause infections in healthcare settings is a growing problem worldwide. Antibiotic resistance occurs as a direct result of antibiotic treatment, and is driven by the increasing consumption of antibiotics as a result of several factors, such as:
- the increased use of invasive medical treatments
- the use of immune suppressive agents in the treatment of cancer
- more complex surgical procedures
- an ageing population with lowered immunity to infection
- consumption of antibiotics present in the food chain.
Infections with MROs are more difficult to treat, and are associated with poorer outcomes for patients and increased costs to the health care system.
The antibiotic-resistant bacteria that cause the most problems for patients in health care facilities are:
- Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
- Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE)
- Multi-resistant Gram-negative bacilli (MRGN)
The prevention of infection with antibiotic-resistant bacteria involves the simultaneous application of a number of strategies:
- identification of carriage (screening of high risk patient groups) and appropriate inpatient placement, for example single room for patients that pose a high risk of transmission
- diligent hand hygiene practices, including alcohol-based hand rubs at point of care
- application of personal protective equipment when performing patient care activities
- appropriate cleaning and disinfection of patient surroundings and medical equipment
- antimicrobial stewardship – making sure that antibiotics are prescribed appropriately.
All types of MRO are managed with transmission-based precautions that are tailored to the route of transmission for the particular organism under consideration. A risk-based approach should always be taken in deciding the level of precautions, and whether or not a patient needs to be isolated.
For the current best practice in the management of patients colonised and infected with MROs in the acute and non-acute care settings, refer to:
- MRSA clinical guideline
- MRGN clinical guideline
- VRE clinical guideline
- Bed management toolkit (PDF 223KB)
For further information on the management of MRO contact SA Health's Infection Control Service.