What You Need to Know about
Multidrug-Resistant and Extensively Drug-Resistant Infections
What does multidrug-resistant and
extensively drug-resistant mean?
Bacteria (germs) that are multidrug-resistant
(MDR) are not killed by many drugs that are
used to treat infections. This means that
there are fewer drugs to kill these germs.
Extensively drug-resistant (XDR) germs are
specific germs that are more difficult to treat
than MDR germs.
MDR and XDR germs can be found all
around us, including in water and soil. We
can often carry these germs on our skin or
inside our body without a problem. But
these germs can cause many kinds of
infections in people. They can cause
infections in urinary tracts, lungs, blood, and
Who is most likely to get these types of
Anyone can get a MDR infection. Most of
these occur in elderly people or people who:
ξ Have other health problems.
ξ Have weak immune systems.
ξ Have a need to use antibiotics for a
ξ Have frequent contact with the
health care system.
ξ Live in a nursing home or assisted
Can MDR and XDR infections be
There are a few antibiotics that will kill
these germs and stop the infections. Not all
patients who have MDR germs need
antibiotics. Sometimes the germs live on the
skin and in the body without causing
What safety measures are used in the
University of Wisconsin Hospital
This Health Facts for You is about the rules
at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and
the clinics within the building. If you have a
MDR infection, you will be placed in
contact isolation precautions (contact
precautions will be defined in the next
section) while you are in the hospital or
these clinics, or if there are recent tests that
show the MDR germ is on or in your body.
If you have a XDR infection, you will be
placed in contact precautions each time you
come to the hospital or these clinics even if
no recent tests have been done to show that
the XDR germ is still on or in your body.
This is to lessen the risk of spread to other
What are some of the things that health
care workers do to prevent the spread of
UW Health doctors, nurses, and other health
ξ Clean their hands with soap and
water or an alcohol hand gel before
and after they care for each patient.
ξ Use contact isolation precautions to
prevent the spread of MDR and XDR
germs from person to person. When
these safety measures are used
o Patients are in private rooms.
o Health care workers wear a new
gown and gloves in each
patient’s room. They remove
their gowns and gloves when
they are ready to leave the room.
Then they clean their hands with
soap and water or an alcohol
o Patients are asked to stay in their
rooms as much as possible. They
should not visit common areas
such as the gift shop or cafeteria.
They can go to areas for tests
Are my family and friends allowed to
Friends and family members should not visit
if they have any signs of an illness that can
be spread from person to person. These
include a cough, sore throat, fever, rash, or
In most cases, you can have visitors. They
will have to follow the same rules as the
health care workers. This means they will
wear gowns and gloves to go into your room
and be with you. They will remove their
gowns and gloves when they are ready to
leave your room. Then they will clean their
hands with soap and water or alcohol hand
What can I do to help prevent the spread
of MDR germs?
ξ See if your doctors, nurses, and other
health care workers 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, do not be
afraid to ask them to do so.
ξ Only take medicine as prescribed by
ξ Clean your hands often. Be sure to
clean them after you use the
bathroom and before you eat.
ξ Put on a clean robe (may use a
second gown worn like a robe) and
clean your hands before you leave
your room. Keep the robe on while
you are outside your room.
ξ Stay in your room except when you
need to go for a test or procedure.
What do I need to do when I go home
from the hospital?
When you are at home, you can return to
your normal routine. There are a few things
you should do to decrease the chance of
getting MDR or XDR infection again and
spreading it to others.
ξ If you are given medicine to treat an
infection, take it exactly as the
doctor and pharmacist say. Be sure
to take all of the medicine as
ξ Clean your hands with soap and
water or alcohol hand gel often. Be
sure to clean them after you go to the
bathroom and before you touch food.
Also be sure to clean them before
and after doing wound care.
ξ Let the people who live with you
know they should clean their hands
ξ Do not share personal items like
towels or razors.
ξ Wash and dry your clothes and bed
linens in the warmest washer
temperatures written on the clothes
ξ Keep cuts and scrapes clean and
bandaged until healed. Do not touch
other people’s cuts or bandages.
ξ Follow your doctor’s instructions.
ξ If you think you have an infection
when you come to the hospital or
clinic, be sure to tell the health care
workers that you have had a MDR
Management of Multidrug-Resistant Organisms in Healthcare Settings, 2006. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/hicpac/mdro/mdro_toc.html
Guidance for Control of Infections with Carbapenem-Resistant or Carbapenemase-Producing
Enterobacteriaceae in Acute Care Facilities. MMWR March 20, 2009.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 6/2017 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7259