Introduction

Infectious diseases are reported to cause high morbidity and mortality rates. Moreover, they are costly to treat as they prolong a hospital stay and require using a special medication. Often, the most spread infections mutate and become resistant to certain drugs. Different bacteria and viruses can be spread in a healthcare environment as many people with various infections remain in the same building for some time. Therefore, they are a source of the disease. Many infections are airborne. The others are spread through the blood or simply by contaminated objects. The lack of personal hygiene fosters the spread of harmful microorganisms as well. In healthcare settings, the improper hand washing is a major cause of bacteria transmission. For this reason, it is essential to foster personal hygiene of healthcare providers, visitors, and patients to reduce an incidence of nosocomial infections. As staphylococcus belongs to the infections that occur in the healthcare environment most often, its prevention will be regarded in this paper.

Definition of Key Concepts

As there will be a special medical terminology used in the paper, there is a need to define the key concepts. An infectious disease is a disorder caused by certain harmful microorganisms that penetrate into the body by various means. It happens by the air, food, through the skin, or with some interventions (scratches, punctures, cuts, and other injuries). Infections are extremely dangerous as they usually develop fast, can be resistant to antibiotics, and have lethal outcomes in many cases (Mayo Clinic Staff 2013). Nosocomial or hospital-acquired infections are such diseases that affect people in healthcare settings. The World Health Organization defines health promotion as a process, which gives people an ability to control and, therefore, improve their health (n. d.). Personal hygiene is an essential requirement for maintaining the persons good health. It includes a proper daily washing with special bactericidal ingredients and multiple hand washing during the day.

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Staphylococcus Aureus

Staphylococcus aureus is an infection that is easily transmitted in public settings, especially in the healthcare environment. Many people, who are the carriers of staphylococcus, come to hospitals to solve their health problems. Lindsay (2008) claims that Staphylococcus aureus causes the greatest part of all nosocomial infections. As most people arriving at the healthcare establishments are ill, they get infected and cannot fight the infection by themselves. It is because of the immunity compromised by their principal diseases. However, Staphylococcus aureus infections are dangerous not only for people with a compromised immunity. The carriers of dangerous bacteria usually do not know about a threat they pose to everyone they meet. They are not aware of the fact that they are a source of the infection. For this reason, Staphylococcus aureus is dangerous since it can be easily transmitted, especially in public settings. They include such environments as schools, kindergartens, restaurants, prisons, and other public places.

According to Lindsay (2008), Staphylococcus aureus is a bacterium that is found on the skin and in the nose. Therefore, it is possible to assume that, being found on the skin, staphylococcus bacteria can be spread by the handshaking and the objects a carrier touches. These may be such as door knobs, tables, chairs, dishes, books, money, and so on. As staphylococci can be found in the carriers nose as well, one can conclude that the dangerous bacteria can be airborne, i.e. spread through the air with the carriers exhalation.

There are staphylococci being resistant to the antibiotics that are mostly used by the healthcare providers to fight infections. MRSA (meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is an infection caused by staphylococcus bacteria being resistant to the methicillin group of antibiotics (Lindsay 2008). Zwillich states that MRSA is extremely dangerous because of its resistance to conventional antibiotics. Therefore, it is hard to be cured, and some people die due to it.

Lowy (1998) considers that most hospital-acquired infections are transmitted by the hands of healthcare providers. After taking care of an infected patient or working with a staphylococci reservoir, in case they forget to wash their hands with applying some effective disinfectant, nurses and physicians can spread the infection. It occurs because they touch door knobs and hospital equipment, and take care of other patients infecting them as well (Lowy 1998). Muto et al. (2003) support an idea that MRSA, along with other nosocomial infections, is transmitted from one patient to another by contaminated hands. For this reason, hand hygiene is a primary preventive measure to avoid a case of being infected and infecting others.

Vinter (2012) states the following. Most nosocomial infections including MRSA can be avoided if a guideline to personal hygiene is followed. The author of the article says that the campaign Clean Your Hands was organized to enhance the personal hygiene in healthcare settings and other public places since many infections are spread by hands (Vinter 2012). For this reason, Vinter insists that it is important to take care and wash hands with some antiseptic (at least, with soap and water) before touching patients, eating, and after going to a bathroom (Vinter 2012).

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Health Promotion Approach

There are different strategies to reduce the incidence of MRSA. One of the most effective ones is proper hand hygiene as a preventive measure. Many scientists (Larson 1999; Tomic et al. 2004) claim that it is easier to prevent the spread of the infection than to treat it. It is resistant to many conventional antibiotics and, therefore, is extremely dangerous. They recommend hand washing as a basic means to defend oneself and other people. Tomic et al. (2004) state that other strategies used to prevent MRSA from spreading are not being effective enough without proper personal hygiene.

Lee et al. (2013) consider that such an easy strategy as proper hand hygiene can result in a significant reduction in the rate of MRSA spread in community settings. Moreover, the scientists claim that if other strategies are combined with hand washing, the incidence of MRSA contamination will be lower (Lee et al. 2013). For this reason, it is necessary to ensure that hand hygiene is not neglected in community settings such as schools, hospitals, prisons, and other establishments. It is essential for the MRSA spread prevention.

Todd Zwillich, the WebMD correspondent, claims that the most effective defence against MRSA and other resistant infections (including a staphylococci group that is the VRSA, i.e. vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), GISA (glycopeptide-intermediate Staphylococcus aureus), CNS (coagulase-negative staphylococci) and others) is proper personal hygiene (2007).

Lindsay (2008) insist on the need to take some preventive measures to reduce the incidence of community and nosocomial infections, including MRSA. It is hard to treat because of the resistance that its bacteria have developed and continue to develop to most antibiotics. When decolonization proposed by a researcher (Lindsay 2008) is possible in healthcare settings and is not applied unless it is seriously needed in another environment, hand washing and cleanliness are the first and most important basic strategies to prevent MRSA from spreading. It is possible to follow in most public places.

Cooke, Umasankar, and Goddard (1997) consider that the first method of control over MRSA and other infections hard to treat is hand washing. They claim that the hand hygiene is regarded as an essential means to prevent hospital-acquired infections from spreading (Cooke, Umasankar & Goddard 1997). Therefore, they suggest enhancing hand hygiene to lower the rate of meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

Benefits of Using the Approach and Actions to Fulfil the Goals

Hand washing is not the only means to prevent the spread of Staphylococcus aureus. Joined with other techniques, it gives very positive outcomes. For example, the study of Lee et al. (2013) shows that combining of different strategies has showed a significant reduction of the MRSA incidence to 12% per month. Two strategies that the scientists had compared were hand washing and MRSA screening with the following contact precautions (isolation in some cases). Besides, there was decolonization with the use of mupirocin and carriers chlorhexidine gluconate bathing (Lee et al. 2013). The research has proved that hand washing on its own or screening and decolonization are not that effective as applied together. The research group chose four hospitals to follow each recommendation and another two ones to combine both methods of MRSA spread control and prevention.

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The most important measure that should be taken to reduce the incidence of MRSA is enhancing the proper personal hygiene. Cooke, Umasankar, and Goddard (1997) claim that many studies show that the compliance to the basic recommendation for all people and healthcare workers, in particular, is very low. The authors insist that the medical personnel lack confidence and awareness of the severity of the problem. Therefore, it is important to provide additional educational programs and trainings to improve the compliance to basic recommendations on personal hygiene (Cooke, Umasankar & Goddard 1997).

Hughes et al. (2011) state that it is necessary to develop new strategies to improve hand hygiene compliance at healthcare establishments and nursing homes for older people, in particular, because the old ones prove to be insufficiently effective. Hand hygiene is an essential precaution strategy to stop MRSA spread. Therefore, it is necessary to promote hand washing. It is possible to use posters to remind about this basic rule, organize some trainings and educational courses.

Conclusion

Staphylococcus aureus is a dangerous bacterium that is easily transmitted by the hands of people and objects they touch. Many kinds of staphylococcus have developed resistance to conventional antibiotics. That is why they are hard to treat MRSA belongs to the infections of this type. As the disease is easily transmitted in public settings and is resistant to most medications, it is better to prevent it from spreading. Personal hygiene is a basic preventive measure against Staphylococcus aureus. As hand washing is often neglected, it is important to develop new strategies in order to increase the compliance to hand hygiene recommendations and, therefore, reduce the incidence of MRSA and guarantee health promotion.

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