Lack of hygiene the cause of MRSA cases

PUBLISHED: 12:55 28 September 2006 | UPDATED: 10:57 06 May 2010

The MRSA bacteria

The MRSA bacteria

A LACK of hand hygiene and sterile equipment could be the reason East and North Hertfordshire s NHS Trust is in the bottom half for cases of MRSA in the country. Lister, QEII and Hertford County hospitals have been ranked 18th worst in England for cases o

A LACK of hand hygiene and sterile equipment could be the reason East and North Hertfordshire's NHS Trust is in the bottom half for cases of MRSA in the country.

Lister, QEII and Hertford County hospitals have been ranked 18th worst in England for cases of the hospital superbug, with 41 patients diagnosed in 2005/06.

Over a three-month period, 220 incidents connected with the Trust's hospital sterile services department were recorded - almost a 15-fold increase on the 15 reported cases for the previous quarter.

A spokesman for the Trust said: "In February of this year we merged the sterile departments at the Lister and the QEII.

"In bringing this merger together it was problematic. Instruments were either clearly not sterile or surgical staff thought they were not sterile.

"None were used on patients but some had their appointments cancelled."

A spot check on ward 5A at Lister revealed only 13 per cent of people complied with hand hygiene regulations and only 21 per cent observed them in the hospital's coronary care unit.

A spokesman for the Trust said: "That's not to say they are bad all the time.

"We may have just had them [the spot checks] on a bad day. It may have just picked up on some quirks."

The 1,697 healthcare-acquired infections (HCAIs) detected in 2005/06 cost £7,266,391 and equate to 19,173 additional bed days, but is down on the previous year's figure of 2,079.

Noel Scanlon, the Trust's director of nursing, said: "Although there are many aspects to combating healthcare-acquired infections, consistently the most important is good hand hygiene.

"The spot check information is part of the Trust's continuing drive to seek improvement in hand hygiene when and wherever it can, as well as to be open with local people.

"The aim of the infection control team is to make sure that all staff, patients and their visitors, practice good hand hygiene at all times.

"We know that as a result of our campaigns, hand hygiene has got a great deal better - but as our spot checks show, there is always room for improvement.

"Where compliance is less than 80 per cent, then this shows us the areas of the Trust where we need to offer greater support - which we have been doing and that has already shown good results.

"It is important for everyone to remember, however, that these audits are very much spot checks and it is their performance over time that really matters.

"I am confident that the progress that the Trust is making in combating healthcare-acquired infections is very real and our patients should be confident about coming into hospital for their treatment.

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