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Zero tolerance policy is paying off in hospitals
MRSA infections in hospital patients have plunged to a record 15-year low thanks to a zero tolerance approach to superbugs.
Worcestershire Acute Hosp-itals NHS Trust, which manages the county’s three acute hospitals, recorded its lowest number of cases to date in 2012/13.
There has been one case so far this year recorded in June compared with three cases the previous financial year.
It has been 185 days since the last infection was identified by the trust (as of Friday, November 30) which has been linked to a more rigorous MRSA screening programme and infection control initiatives put in place across the hospitals.
We reported back in February 2007 how Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust was criticised by the Strategic Health Authority for having 34 cases of MRSA in 2006/07 across its three hospitals, illustrating how the bug has been brought under control since.
Consultant microbiologist Dr Anne Dyas said: “We understand that the risk of infection by superbugs such as MRSA is a very important issue for our patients.
“This is why we set ourselves the very highest standards and maintain a zero tolerance approach to infection.”
MRSA screening for all eligible inpatients became mandatory for acute trusts in March 2011. In addition, rescreening of any patient who has remained in hospital longer than one month has been introduced by the trust.
This programme is monitored by a dedicated data clerk, who receives a list of long-stay patients monthly, and reminds wards to rescreen.
Any patients found to be carrying MRSA are offered treatment. As a result of this and other infection control initiatives the trust’s MRSA bloodstream infection rate has been steadily falling.
MRSA is a germ that may be harmlessly carried by many people on their skin and in their nose without causing an infection.
It can, however, cause abscesses, boils and wound infections, particularly in people who are already unwell.
Patients and visitors are encouraged to help lower the risk of infection by regular hand-washing and using the antibacterial hand-gel when visiting patient areas.
The visitors’ code also reduces the risk by allowing a maximum of two visitors per patient at any one time and recommending people don’t visit the hospitals if they are unwell themselves.
Movement activated recorded messages are played to remind staff and patients to use hand-gel as they pass by, and ensuring doctors, nurses and other clinical staff who have direct contact with patients adopt the ‘bare below the elbows’ guidance, including short or rolled up sleeves and no wristwatches or rings.