Information for patients
This leaflet can be made available in other formats including large print, CD and Braille and in languages other than English, upon request.
This leaflet tells you about Vancomycin Resistant Enterococci, commonly called VRE.
What are Vancomycin-resistant Enterococci (VRE)?
Enterococci are bacteria (germs) that live in the bowel of humans usually without causing any ill effects, this is called colonisation.
Enterococci can be resistant to Vancomycin (a type of antibiotic) and other antibiotics used to treat infections. When the enterococci are resistant to Vancomycin they are referred to as Vancomycin-resistant enterococci or VRE for short.
How will I know if I have VRE?
If you need a sample testing, a member of your care team will discuss this with you. Normally the test involves taking a faecal (poo) sample. Other samples may be required such as urine samples, a rectal sample or a wound swab (if you have any wounds).
You should not experience any discomfort while the swabs or samples are taken and your privacy and dignity will be respected at all times.
All swabs and samples will be sent to the laboratory for testing to see if any bacteria grow. Your care team will tell you the results. The results will take approximately 1 – 3 days.
What if I test positive for VRE?
If you test positive for VRE it means that you have the bacteria in your body. You may not show any symptoms (colonisation) or you may feel unwell (infection). If your doctor thinks you are showing signs of infection they may prescribe a course of antibiotics.
While you are in hospital:
- you may be cared for in a single room with your own toilet facilities.
- staff caring for you will wear personal protective equipment such as gloves and aprons to prevent spreading the bacteria to other patients.
- it is very important that you wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after visiting the toilet and before eating (staff will help you if you need them to).
- it is very important that all healthcare staff wash their hands with soap and water before entering and leaving your room.
- you should avoid touching medical devices such as intravenous drips or catheters, if you have any.
- you should avoid touching open wounds, if you have any.
- you will be offered a daily shower / bathing and daily change of clothing (staff will help you if you need them to).
How did I get VRE?
It can be difficult to say exactly how you got VRE. We do know that VRE is usually found in people who have been taking antibiotics or have a weakened immune system, such as patients in intensive care units.
Am I allowed visitors?
VRE are not a problem for fit and healthy people, therefore family and friends can visit you.
The general advice is:
- Relatives, friends and other visitors who are feeling unwell should not visit you.
- Visitors who have had a recent infection or illness should seek advice from nursing staff before visiting.
- Children and babies are more prone to infection and are advised not to visit if possible, consult nursing staff for further advice, if needed.
- Visitors should follow instructions on your room door or from nursing staff before entering your room.
- Visitors and relatives can still touch you (for example, hold your hand or give you a hug).
- Visitors must wash their hands with soap and water before entering and on leaving your room. This will help prevent the bacteria from spreading.
What happens when I leave hospital?
If you are discharged from hospital with VRE, it should not affect you or your family home. Staff from the hospital will tell your GP about your positive VRE result when you are discharged from hospital.
Hand-washing is very important to prevent these bacteria spreading, so you must wash your hands well after going to the toilet and before eating.
Any person who is looking after you must also regularly wash their hands well to prevent spreading VRE to other people.
Community staff caring for you may wear gloves and aprons when carrying out certain tasks. This is to prevent spreading VRE to other patients they are caring for. It is not necessary for your family members to wear aprons and gloves.
If you have any invasive medical devices, for example, a urinary catheter, you should only touch these if you have been instructed to clean them.
You should make sure your toilets and bathrooms are regularly cleaned with your usual household cleaning products
You can continue with your leisure and social activities as normal.
You can wash your clothes and bed linen as normal at the hottest temperature suitable for the fabric. If laundry is soiled, it should be washed separately. It is important that after doing laundry you wash your hands with soap and water.
What if I need to go back into hospital or go to hospital as an outpatient?
If you are admitted back into hospital or go to hospital as an outpatient, it is important that you let the staff caring for you know that you have had a positive test for VRE in the past.
This will make sure that you receive the best care to reduce the risk of you developing a VRE infection. It might be helpful to take this leaflet with you to show the Clinical Team.
What happens when I go home again?
The presence of the bacteria should not affect you or your family at home. Normal bathing or showering and household cleaning is all that is needed.
If you have any questions or worries please talk to one of your doctors or nurses. They can arrange for you to speak with an Infection Prevention and Control Nurse, if necessary.
University Hospital of North Tees
Infection Prevention and Control Department
Telephone: 01642 383280
Monday – Friday, 8.30am – 4.30pm
Comments, concerns, compliments or complaints
Patient Experience Team (PET)
We are continually trying to improve the services we provide. We want to know what we’re doing well or if there’s anything which we can improve, that’s why the Patient Experience Team (PET) is here to help. Our Patient Experience Team is here to try to resolve your concerns as quickly as possible. The office is based on the ground floor at the University Hospital of North Tees if you wish to discuss concerns in person. If you would like to contact or request a copy of our PET leaflet, please contact:
Telephone: 01642 624719
Freephone: 0800 092 0084
Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 9:30am to 4:00pm
Email: [email protected]
Out of hours
Out of hours if you wish to speak to a senior member of Trust staff, please contact the hospital switchboard who will bleep the appropriate person.
Telephone: 01642 617617
Data protection and use of patient information
The Trust has developed Data Protection policies in accordance with Data Protection Legislation (UK General Data Protection Regulations and Data Protection Act 2018) and the Freedom of Information Act 2000. All of our staff respect these policies and confidentiality is adhered to at all times. If you require further information on how we process your information please see our Privacy Notices.
Telephone: 01642 383551
Email: [email protected]Privacy Notices
This leaflet has been produced in partnership with patients and carers. All patient leaflets are regularly reviewed, and any suggestions you have as to how it may be improved are extremely valuable. Please write to the Clinical Governance team, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, University Hospital of North Tees, TS19 8PE or:
Email: [email protected]
Leaflet reference: PIL1081v2
Date for review: 28/06/2026