Real Voices interview: Alison

A patient’s experience of MRSA

“Before I went in, I got a letter from the hospital saying it was high up in the anti-MRSA league tables. I thought: ‘Oh good, that’s one thing I don’t need to worry about.’

After the second operation [there were two stages], I was suddenly moved to an isolated cubicle in the High Dependency Unit (HDU), where full isolation procedures were followed. Here, they told me my swab had shown that I had MRSA but said I had nothing to worry about because it was isolated in the bladder, and they had new antibiotics to treat it there.

At this stage I became very ill. An infection in my chest spread to my lungs and I needed oxygen, a chest drain and a tracheotomy to help me breathe. I was also put on a ventilator for a week. I was delirious during my time in HDU – 33 days in all – and remember very little of it. It was like a dream.

When I improved, I was taken from HDU to another isolation ward. When I asked why I wasn’t going back to the open ward, the nurse hesitated slightly, then said I would find it easier to rest in a single cubicle. Again in this ward, they followed isolation procedures. The hygiene was good, but they talked about MRSA very casually.

All in all I was in hospital for nearly ten weeks – although my operations and recovery period should have only taken three. When I left they gave me a letter for the district nurse. It said I’d had MRSA (‘MRSA’ was highlighted in big red letters).

Overall, although care and prevention was excellent, communication was poor. I have no knowledge of the course of the MRSA. No one was ever open or specific about it. Yet they were always very clear and precise about my operations.”

About this resource

This resource was first published in ‘Epidemics’ in September 2007.

Health, infection and disease, Immunology
Education levels:
16–19, Continuing professional development