Monday, April 14, 2008

My HORRID HORRID day with MRSA! (aka, Superbug/Supervirus)

We often get sick kids in, but today's incident really took the cake...

I had a client walk in for a haircut, the little girl looked VERY ill, hunched over and walking like she had arthritis, her limbs were all bandaged and she had dime & nickle sized sores all over her face and body.

We get disabled kids with genetic conditions and all kinds of issues in all the time, however, and since mom was bringing her in, I just thought it must be okay. So I get her seated and she's shaking the poor thing. Her mom starts off by telling me I have to be really careful because her hair will fall out if it's pulled on hard, and her skin will tear and rub off if she's rubbed hard... okay...

Then she proceeds to tell me that I'll need to make sure I wash my hands thoroughly before and after the haircut because she has antibiotic treatment on her skin. At this point, I ask her if it's contagious (state board of cosmetology regulations prohibit me from working on anyone with anything contagious, from lice to your common cold) Mom says, "No it's not contagious but just make sure you have no open wounds on your skin." Which leaves me thinking, if it's not contagious, why would I need to worry about open sores?

So then I tell her, "Okay I just have to be sure because I'm pregnant and I am more limited to what I can be exposed to." (I could SMELL her medications, what if my baby is exposed to that?) Mom asks if there's another stylist who could do it, but ironically every employee at work today is pregnant. So the mom tells me, "You can wear gloves if you want but it's not contagious. She has a disease called MRSA."

RED FLAG! I've been hearing about MRSA, except it's better known in the media as the "Superbug" or "Supervirus!" For those of you who don't know much about it, it's an skin/staph infection that is resistant to all antibiotics and people usually DIE from this because doctors don't know how to treat it. And so I told her that if she didn't mind I'd prefer to ask call my doctor before proceeding just to make sure it was no risk. The mom said, "No problem, better to be safe than sorry."

So I go to the back room and call my OB/GYN on my cellphone, takes about 10 minutes and 3 explanations to assure them that although it's not an emergency, I really need to talk to a nurse or doctor NOW. Finally I get a hold of a nurse and explain the situation to her. She basically says that I should try and avoid it, especially for my peace of mind (I was once exposed to impetigo at work and worried for months about getting it!) and while I'm talking to her I realize, I have the perfect reason! State board of cosmetology prohibits me to work on ANYONE with an open sore or wound! This little girl had them ALL OVER.

So the nurse says well then there you go! So I'm dreading it but I walk back out to my station and say, "I'm so sorry but my doctor has advised me not to cut her hair." The mom started to get upset and tell me, "It's not contagious as long as you have no open wounds!" And I tell her that I'm just not comfortable with being exposed to MRSA and the medications she's on. (Also- hairstylists cut themselves during haircuts ALL the time, so what if that happened???) And so I also tell her that state board regulatins prohibit me from working on anyone with open wounds and that I could get fined or lose my license for doing so.

The woman unfortunately got very emotional and upset her daughter with her own reaction. The litle girl was about 6, and she was very very ill. It was so sad. I was holding back tears the whole time. Mom started saying things like, "She has less than a year to live and she's disabled and I can't believe you would treat her this way. You guys have cut her hair before. This little girl is a person and she deserves to be loved!" And was banging her fist on the front desk (the receptionist had no clue what was going on and another family is watching the scene.) and I just kept saying, "I'm so sorry, I'm just doing what I think is best for everyone's health and safety."

The mom demanded the owner's number and my managers which I willingly gave her. She finally left and I started to cry. The family that witnessed, thank goodness, the dad said, "I'm an EMT and let me tell you, you did the right thing! Especially if you're pregnant." That made me feel a little better. But I called my boss and manager to tell them what happened so they'd know before she called.

Luckily, they both took it very well and assured me that I did the right thing. My manager called State Board and the Public Health department afterwards to check wtih them, BOTH told her that you DON'T have to have open wounds to contract the disease, just skin to skin contact, and that I definitely did the right thing. That little girl should not be out and about exposing the general public.

Still, i can't help but feeling horrible for that little dying girl. But on the other hand, I have a little girl too now! I have to protect her and her mother. Not to mention my next 15 clients I had today that could have been exposed to MRSA too if I had done that haircut.

It was a really unfortunate situation for everybody involved. One thing I didn't expect, the mom called my manager later and left a message upset, but she did tell her that I was very polite throughout the whole ordeal. I'm just so thankful I have a great boss who stands behind me on this.

After they left I Lysol'd and Cloroxed myself, my station and door handles... you can never be too safe.

MRSA is a nasty, possibly fatal infection! In hospitals they quarantine people with it! So I am kinda irked that this mom thought it was okay to expose ME to it, and also that she told me to wasn't contagious- because it IS! And the only reason we've cut her hair before is because my co-workers didn't know what MRSA was. Luckily, from a recent Dr. Phil episode on the disease, I do!

Be careful everyone! Keep your wounds covered and wash your hands a lot. This "superbug" is SCARY! And today I got closer to it than I'd ever thought I would.

1 comment:

  1. This mother is psyco. She needs to have her daughter quarentined and away from people who can catch it! Imagine how bad she would feel if her daughter gave the virus to many other little kids who ended up dying!

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