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Facts about Multi-Drug Resistant Organisms

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MDROs or multi-drug resistant organisms are germs, mostly bacteria, which over time have adapted to antibiotics, making antibiotics less effective or not effective at all. In other words, this means the antibiotics used to treat these germs don’t work well or don’t work at all. When you use an antibiotic that you don’t need, use antibiotics a lot, or if you don’t take antibiotics as directed by your doctor, it increases your risk of getting a MDRO.

Colonization- When a person is colonized with a multi-drug resistant organism the germs are present in or on the body but the person is not ill. He is a carrier of the organism and can spread it to other people even though he has no symptoms of illness. Patients colonized with MDROs are placed on Contact Precautions at CHKD. 

Infection- An illness that results from the presence and invasion of the germs. The person with an infection can spread it to others. Patients with MDRO infections are placed on Contact Precautions at CHKD. 

Why does it matter if an organism is resistant to antibiotics?

Patients who are infected with resistant organisms may spend a longer time in the hospital because the infections are more difficult to treat. The antibiotics used to treat infections may not work as well for MDROs. 

Aren’t these organisms everywhere?

MDROs are everywhere in the world. Hospitals and other healthcare settings battle resistant organisms to keep them from spreading throughout their buildings. MDROs are found in the community as well. Examples of infections from MDROs in the community are drug resistant pneumonias, urinary tract infections, and skin and soft tissue infections. 

Who is most likely to get sick from MDROs?

Healthy people can be colonized with these germs and even develop infections with an MDRO. Most people, including children, are at low risk of developing an infection.

  • One exception is MRSA or Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus. MRSA is a type of MDRO that often causes infection in healthy adults and children. MRSA is common in the community.

While other MDROs usually do not cause illness in healthy people, they can cause infection in anyone. People are more likely to get an infection from a MDRO if they:

  • have weakened immune systems
  • are on antibiotics for other infections
  • have central lines (special IVs that are in the larger blood vessels)

What is the most important thing to do to prevent the spread of MDROs?

The most important thing to do is to wash your hands and other areas of the skin that may have germs on them, such as your arms.

  • Hand washing removes resistant organisms and many other germs. It is the best prevention against most infections.
  • All people, including parents, MUST wash their hands right before visiting anyone in the hospital. They must also wash their hands right before leaving the patient’s room.

Other than hand washing, how do we prevent the spread of MDROs?

Patients at CHKD who are colonized or infected with MDROs are placed on Contact Precautions. MDROs can be found on:

  • Our skin and hands
  • Items such as bed rails and door handles in the patient’s room
  • Equipment used for patient care, such as stethoscopes and electronic thermometers

The purpose of Contact Precautions is to keep MDROs from spreading to other patients. Everyone wears gloves, and often gowns, when in the room of a patient on Contact Precautions.

  • Gowns protect our clothes and arms from these germs. 
  • Gloves keep us from getting a lot of germs on our hands. 
  • Toys and equipment should not be shared. 
  • Items that must be shared must be disinfected before being taken out of the patient’s room.

What should we do at home?

Always use good hygiene at home. Hand washing is important for your health. Hand washing helps to prevent others from “getting” MDROs. Avoid antibacterial soaps as they get rid of the good germs we need and make it easier for the MDROs to live on your hands and skin.

Since healthy people are at low risk of getting infected with MDROs, your child should continue his usual activities, such as school, work, camp, day care, or visiting friends’ houses without worry. Also, when your child goes to the doctor’s office, tell any nurses and doctors who treat him that he has an MDRO (or resistant bacteria).

What if my child returns to CHKD?

As long as your child has an MDRO, we will use Contact Precautions when he is a patient at CHKD. This will help prevent other patients and our staff from getting infected or colonized with multi-drug resistant organisms.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 07/2018

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