Knoxville (WVLT) - A survey earlier this year suggested MRSA infections affect 46 out of every 1,000 U.S. Hospital and nursing home patients. This is an aggressive infection.
The patients are vulnerable because of open wounds and invasive medical equipment that can help the germ spread.
Volunteer TV's Lauren Davis talked with local hospital and nursing homes to see if you or your loved ones are at risk.
UT Medical Center doctors say MRSA is very common in their emergency room mostly originating though in the community. Shannondale Nursing home says they see MRSA in patients mostly coming from the hospitals.
MRSA is common in healthcare settings. Shannondale Nursing Home Quality Improvement Director Diane Brice isn't that concerned with the infection.
"Ten years ago it was a big thing, but not now," Brice said.
But they do have problems with nursing home residents contracting MRSA at hospitals.
"The hospital. That's where we're really getting our MRSA cases from and they're looking at what's happening why are they starting there," Brice said.
Doctor Christianna Lietzke sees MRSA patients at UT Medical Center on a daily basis. She says they contract the infection out in the community, not in the hospital.
"On any given day we'll see MRSA cases that are a community acquired disease with a soft tissue skin infection boils that require drainage," Lietzke said.
So far this year, there have been 24 cases of MRSA confirmed at UT Medical Center. Hospitals and nursing homes don't have to report all MRSA cases to the health department though. You will only know about the more serious ones that get into the blood stream.
"We require invasive information be reported to health department, but don't track by individual hospital," epidemiologist Dr. Allen Craig said.
So if you want to know if your hospital has a problem with reoccurring MRSA infections, epidemiologist Dr. Allen Craig says you can call the facility.
"An individual can call the hospital because most hospitals keep track of hospital," Craig said.
But until hospitals are required to record individual cases, you won't know which facilities have a problem. The only thing you can do is what Shannondale does. Wash your hands to get rid of the germs.
In the last two years, there has been legislation discussed to make the health care facilities report MRSA to the public by the consumer's union, but no bills have been passed. The elderly are at a higher risk of contracting the infection because they have a lowered immune system. Some symptoms of the deadly staph infection are skin boils or pimple looking sores, sometimes mixed with fever and body aches.