Over the past several weeks, Gomerblog has observed an uptick in medical documentation mishaps in which the words “staff” and “Staph” are used incorrectly. For this reason, we have deemed it critically important to distinguish the subtleties between the two.
A quick Google search on “staff” defines it as “all the people employed by a particular organization,” which for the purpose of this post refers to a hospital, clinic, or other health care entity. This differs from “Staph,” which is short for Staphylococcus aureus. Staph is not employed by a particular organization.
Staph is found in the community and colonizes about 30% of people. That means 30% of staff have Staph. In contrast, staff is found in the hospital and colonizes about 100% of the workforce.
That being said, Staph can threaten the health of a patient in the form of infections – like pneumonia, bacteremia, endocarditis, and osteomyelitis – particularly if it is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA. Staff can also threaten the health of a patient if they are careless, incompetent, or negligent.
Sometimes patients don’t get along with staff, in which case relocation of the patient to another unit is one solution. This won’t work if the patients don’t get along with Staph; here, contact isolation, antibiotics, and surgical debridement are better options.
Health care teams “staff” new admissions. They don’t Staph them because that goes against the tenet of Primum no nocere: First, do no harm. Patients are sick enough as it is to get admitted. What they need is staff, not Staph.
Finally, it is never a bad idea – in fact, infectious diseases specialists encourage it – to expose staff and Staph to as much vancomycin as possible.