Knowledge gaps and fear some of it unjustified are common among the caregivers of children with a drug-resistant staph bacterium known as MRSA, according to the results of a small study from the Johns Hopkins Children Center. These caregivers thirst for timely, detailed and simple information, the researchers add.
The study's findings, published online in The Journal of Pediatrics, underscore the need for healthcare staff to do a better job in educating parents, while also addressing concerns and allaying fears, the investigators say.
"What these results really tell us is not how little parents know about drug-resistant infections, but how much more we, the healthcare providers, should be doing to help them understand it," says senior investigator Aaron Milstone, M.D., M.H.S., a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Hopkins Children's.
Conducting bedside interviews with 100 parents and others caring for children hospitalized with new or established MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, the investigators found that nearly one-fifth (18 of the 100) had never heard of MRSA. Some of the children in the study were symptom-free carriers who were hospitalized for other reasons, while others had active MRSA infections. This increasingly common antibiotic-resistant bacterium causes skin and soft-tissue infections in healthy people, but can lead to invasive, sometimes fatal, infections in seriously sick patients and in those with weak immune systems.
To prevent the spread of MRSA to other patients, Hopkins Children's in 2007 began screening all children admitted to its intensive-care units. They are then screened weekly until discharge.
In the study, 29 of the 100 caregivers said they didn't know that their child had MRSA, but only nine of these cases involved newly identified cases, meaning that 20 children had been diagnosed with MRSA during past hospitalizations, yet parents and guard
|Contact: Ekaterina Pesheva|
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions