HF 7259

Multidrug-Resistant (MDR) and Extensively Drug-Resistant (XDR) Infections

This handout explains what multidrug-resistant (MDR) and extensively drug-resistant (XDR) means and how it impacts your care at UW Health.

Multidrug-Resistant (MDR) Germs

MDR germs are germs that are not killed by many antibiotics used to treat infections.

Extensively Drug-Resistant (XDR) Germs

XDR germs are even harder to kill than MDR germs. This means there are fewer antibiotics that can be used for treatment.

Why are these germs important?

MDR and XDR germs are becoming more common. We often have these germs on our skin or inside our body with no problems. These germs can also cause many kinds of infections in people in different areas of the body, such as in the urine, lungs, blood, and surgery sites.

Who is most likely to get these infections?

Anyone can become infected with an MDR or XDR germ. Infections most often occur in the elderly or people who:

  • Have other health problems.

  • Have weak immune systems.

  • Need to use antibiotics for a long time.

  • Have frequent contact with the health care system.

  • Live in a nursing home or assisted living.

Can they be treated?

There are some antibiotics that can kill MDR and XDR germs. Not all patients with MDR germs need antibiotics. Sometimes, the germs live on the skin and in the body and do not cause infection.

XDR germs tend to stay in the body (often in the intestines). That is why once your medical record shows you have had an XDR infection, it stays on your medical record forever.

How will this change my care in the hospital?

  • Tell the health care team that you have had an MDR or XDR infection in the past. For example: “I was diagnosed with XDR in the urine in June 2017.”

  • Health care workers will wear gowns and gloves when they care for you. This is known as contact isolation precautions. This lowers the risk of spreading these germs to other patients and protects the health care workers.

  • Your health care team should wash their hands with soap and water or use an alcohol hand gel before and after they care for you. If you do not see them clean their hands, ask them to do so.

  • Clean your hands often. Be sure to clean them after you use the bathroom and before you eat.

  • Put on a clean robe or a clean hospital gown and clean your hands before you leave your room. Keep the robe on while you are outside your room.

  • Stay on the inpatient unit. Avoid direct physical contact with patients, kitchen, or lounge areas.

Can my family and friends visit me in the hospital?

In most cases, you can have visitors. They will need to follow the same rules as the health care workers. This means they need to:

  1. Wear gowns and gloves to go into your room.

  2. Take off their gowns and gloves when they are ready to leave your room.

  3. Clean their hands with soap and water or alcohol hand gel.

Visitors who spend the night should speak with the nurse about wearing gowns and gloves.
People should not visit if they have any signs of an illness that can be spread from person-to-person. This includes a cough, sore throat, fever, rash, or diarrhea.

How will this change my care in the clinic?

  • Be sure to tell the health care workers that you have had an MDR or XDR infection in the past. For example: “I was diagnosed with XDR in the urine in June 2017.”

  • In some clinic settings, health care workers will wear gowns and gloves when they care for you. This is known as contact isolation precautions. This lowers the risk of spreading these germs to other patients and protects the health care workers.

  • Your health care team should wash their hands with soap and water or uses alcohol hand gel before and after they care for you. If you do not see them clean their hands, ask them to do so.

What do I need to do in my own home?

There are a few things you should do to decrease the chance of getting an MDR or
XDR infection again and spreading it to others.

  • If you are prescribed an antibiotic to treat an infection, take it exactly as prescribed. Be sure to take all of the medicine.

  • Clean your hands with soap and water or alcohol hand gel often. Clean your hands after you go to the bathroom, before you touch food, and before and after wound care.

  • Tell the people who live with you to clean their hands often.

  • Do not share personal items like towels or razors.

  • Wash and dry your clothes and bed sheets in the warmest washer temperatures written on the clothes labels.

  • Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered until healed. Do not touch other people’s cuts or bandages.

  • Follow your doctor’s instructions.