Women Physicians
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Care of Women by Women


Newsletter Index -- January 1, 2008

Talk On Heart Health for Women

MRSA Infections

Surfing the Net for Health Information



Talk on Heart Health for Women

Did you know heart disease is the number 1 killer of women?  And that more women die each year of heart disease than men do?  Heart disease is not just a man’s disease!

Come to our free informational talk and learn if you are at risk of heart disease and what you can do to reduce your risk.  This is the third in our series of educational talks for women presented by Women Physicians Ob-Gyn at our office.  Dr. Sutherland will be speaking and encourages you to bring your questions.

                                                                           JOIN US

January 30, 2008, Wednesday

6:30 PM — 7:30 PM

2485 Hospital Drive, Suite 221, Mountain View, 94040

RSVP 650-988-7557

If you would like to know more about heart disease in women but cannot make it to the WPMG talk, Dr. Sutherland will also be talking on Heart Health for Women at the Elephant Pharmacy in Los Altos on February 9th, 2008, Saturday, at 1:00 PM.    

MRSA Infections

We, at Women Physicians, as well as the rest of the medical community, are recognizing an increased number of infections that are antibiotic resistant.  One such infection, community acquired methicillin resistent staphylococcus aureus, is on the rise, and therefore has been in the news lately.  We hope this newsletter can help to answer some of your questions and help in the goal of prevention. 

Other bacteria are also becoming increasingly resistant.  We can no longer count on all UTI’s to respond to our first choice of antibiotic.  It is important to do cultures before treating many infections.  Also, avoid use of antibiotics unless they are clearly indicated and properly prescribed by your doctor.  

·          What is Staphylococcus aureus (staph)?

Staphylococcus aureus, often referred to simply as "staph," are bacteria commonly carried on the skin or in the nose of healthy people. Approximately 25% to 30% of the population is colonized (when bacteria are present, but not causing an infection) in the nose with staph bacteria. Sometimes, staph can cause an infection. Staph bacteria are one of the most common causes of skin infections in the United States. Most of these skin infections are minor (such as pimples and boils) and can be treated without antibiotics (also known as antimicrobials or antibacterials). However, staph bacteria also can cause serious infections (such as surgical wound infections, bloodstream infections, and pneumonia).

·          What is MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus)?

Some staph bacteria are resistant to antibiotics. MRSA is a type of staph that is resistant to antibiotics called beta-lactams. Beta-lactam antibiotics include methicillin and other more common antibiotics such as oxacillin, penicillin and amoxicillin. While 25% to 30% of the population is colonized with staph, approximately 1% is colonized with MRSA.

·          Who gets staph or MRSA infections?

Staph infections, including MRSA, occur most frequently among persons in hospitals and healthcare facilities (such as nursing homes and dialysis centers) who have weakened immune systems. These healthcare-associated staph infections include surgical wound infections, urinary tract infections, bloodstream infections, and pneumonia.

·          What is community-associated MRSA (CA-MRSA)?

Staph and MRSA can also cause illness in persons outside of hospitals and healthcare facilities. MRSA infections that are acquired by persons who have not been recently (within the past year) hospitalized or had a medical procedure (such as dialysis, surgery, catheters) are know as CA-MRSA infections. Staph or MRSA infections in the community are usually manifested as skin infections, such as pimples and boils, and occur in otherwise healthy people.

·          How common are staph and MRSA infections?

Staph bacteria are one of the most common causes of skin infection in the United States and are a common cause of pneumonia, surgical wound infections, and bloodstream infections. The majority of MRSA infections occur among patients in hospitals or other healthcare settings; however, it is becoming more common in the community setting. Data from a prospective study in 2003, suggests that 12% of clinical MRSA infections are community-associated, but this varies by geographic region and population.

·          What does a staph or MRSA infection look like?

Staph bacteria, including MRSA, can cause skin infections that may look like a pimple or boil and can be red, swollen, painful, or have pus or other drainage.  Many people think it is a spider bite.   More serious infections may cause pneumonia, bloodstream infections, or surgical wound infections.

·          Are certain people at increased risk for community-associated staph or MRSA infections?

 The CDC (Center for Disease Control) has investigated clusters of CA-MRSA skin infections among athletes, military recruits, children, Pacific Islanders, Alaskan Natives, Native Americans, men who have sex with men, and prisoners.
Factors that have been associated with the spread of MRSA skin infections include: close skin-to-skin contact, openings in the skin such as cuts or abrasions, contaminated items and surfaces, crowded living conditions, and poor hygiene.

·          How can I prevent staph or MRSA skin infections?

Practice good hygiene:

1.         Keep your hands clean by washing thoroughly with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

2.         Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered with a bandage until healed.

3.         Avoid contact with other people’s wounds or bandages.

4.         Avoid sharing personal items such as towels or razors.

·          Can I get a staph or MRSA infection at my health club?

In the outbreaks of MRSA, the environment has not played a significant role in the transmission of MRSA. MRSA is transmitted most frequently by direct skin-to-skin contact. You can protect yourself from infections by practicing good hygiene (e.g., keeping your hands clean by washing with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand rub and showering after working out); covering any open skin area such as abrasions or cuts with a clean dry bandage; avoiding sharing personal items such as towels or razors; using a barrier (e.g., clothing or a towel) between your skin and shared equipment; and wiping surfaces of equipment before and after use.

·          What should I do if I think I have a staph or MRSA infection?

Make an appointment at Women Physicians.  It is important to be diagnosed and treated appropriately. 

·          Are staph and MRSA infections treatable?

Yes. Most staph and MRSA infections are treatable with antibiotics. If you are given an antibiotic, take all of the doses, even if the infection is getting better, unless your doctor tells you to stop taking it. Do not share antibiotics with other people or save unfinished antibiotics to use at another time.

However, many staph skin infections may be treated by draining the abscess or boil and may not require antibiotics. Drainage of skin boils or abscesses should only be done by a healthcare provider.

If after visiting your healthcare provider the infection is not getting better after a few days, contact them again. If other people you know or live with get the same infection tell them to go to their healthcare provider.

·          Is it possible that my staph or MRSA skin infection will come back after it is cured?

Yes. It is possible to have a staph or MRSA skin infection come back (recur) after it is cured. To prevent this from happening, follow your healthcare provider’s directions while you have the infection, and follow the prevention steps after the infection is gone.

·          If I have a staph, or MRSA skin infection, what can I do to prevent others from getting infected?

You can prevent spreading staph or MRSA skin infections to others by following these steps:

1.         Cover your wound. Keep wounds that are draining or have pus covered with clean, dry bandages. Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions on proper care of the wound. Pus from infected wounds can contain staph and MRSA, so keeping the infection covered will help prevent the spread to others. Bandages or tape can be discarded with the regular trash.

2.         Clean your hands. You, your family, and others in close contact should wash their hands frequently with soap and warm water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after changing the bandage or touching the infected wound.

3.         Do not share personal items. Avoid sharing personal items such as towels, washcloths, razors, clothing, or uniforms that may have had contact with the infected wound or bandage. Wash sheets, towels, and clothes that become soiled with water and laundry detergent. Drying clothes in a hot dryer, rather than air-drying, also helps kill bacteria in clothes.

Talk to your doctor. Tell any healthcare providers who treat you that you have or had a staph or MRSA skin infection.

Surfing the Net for Health Information

The internet is an incredible boon to all of us.  In fact, most of you are reading this newsletter via the internet.  When it comes to health information, googling your favorite search engine may produce thousands of results.  How can you tell which are reliable sources of information and which may be unscientific and untrustworthy?  Fortunately the National Institute of Health and the National Library have provided consumers with some excellent guidelines.  We at Women Physicians urge you to take the tutorial or read through the recommendations the next time you have a health topic you would like to research.


Evaluating Internet Health Information: A Tutorial from the National Library of Medicine


MedlinePlus Guide to Healthy Web Surfing (U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health)


A User's Guide to Finding and Evaluating Health Information on the Web (Medical Library Association)


The following suggestions come from the Medical Library Association:

·          Become familiar with the general health information finding tools such as MEDLINEPIus (http://www.medlineplus.gov), produced by the National Library of Medicine, or Healthfinder ® (http://www.healthfinder.gov) from the US Department of Health and Human Services, which can get you started by pointing you to good, credible health information quickly. The Medical Library Association's "Top Ten" list (see their website) is another device to help you start your search with a highly selective list of quality health information sites trusted by medical librarians.

·          When you have found sites that look relevant, use the guidelines below to help you decide whether the information is as credible, timely, and useful as it looks.

1. Sponsorship

·          Can you easily identify the site sponsor? Sponsorship is important because it helps establish the site as respected and dependable. Does the site list advisory board members or consultants? This may give you further insights on the credibility of information published on the site.

·          The Web address itself can provide additional information about the nature of the site and the sponsor's intent.  A government agency has .gov in the address.  An educational institution is indicated by .edu in the address.  A professional organization such as a scientific or research society will be identified as .org. For example, the American Cancer Society's Website is http://www.cancer.org/.  Commercial sites identified by .com will most often identify the sponsor as a company, for example Merck & Co., the pharmaceutical firm.

·          What should you know about .com health sites? Commercial sites may represent a specific company or be sponsored by a company using the Web for commercial reasons—to sell products. At the same time, many commercial Websites have valuable and credible information. Many hospitals have .com in their address. The site should fully disclose the sponsor of the site, including the identities of commercial and noncommercial organizations that have contributed funding, services, or material to the site.

2. Current information

·          The site should be updated frequently. Health information changes constantly as new information is learned about diseases and treatments through research and patient care. Websites should reflect the most up-to-date information..  The Website should have the date of the latest revision clearly posted.  This usually appears at the bottom of the page.

3. Factual information

·          Information should be presented in a clear manner. It should be factual (not opinion) and capable of being verified from a primary information source such as the professional literature, abstracts, or links to other Web pages.  Information represented as an opinion should be clearly stated and the source should be identified as a qualified professional or organization.

4. Audience

The Website should clearly state whether the information is intended for the consumer or the health professional.  Many health information Websites have two different areas - one for consumers, one for professionals. The design of the site should make selection of one area over the other clear to the user.

El Camino Women's Medical Group provides comprehensive Obstetric & Gynecologic care for patients throughout the Bay Area. Minimally invasive surgery, infertility, women's mental health, and the MonaLisa Touch are just a few of the specialized services we offer.
The MonaLisa Touch treatment is available at El Camino Women's Medical Group. Call the office (650-396-8110) or email Shar (Shar@ElCaminoWomen.com) for more information.
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