New System to Beat MRSA

AN important scheme which aims to slash the number of superbug infections has been introduced at Lister Hospital. Patients admitted to the Stevenage hospital for planned medical and surgical treatments will now be screened for MRSA on their skin and nostr

AN important scheme which aims to slash the number of superbug infections has been introduced at Lister Hospital.

Patients admitted to the Stevenage hospital for planned medical and surgical treatments will now be screened for MRSA on their skin and nostrils.

If the bacterium is found, the person can then be treated, thus putting them and other patients at reduced risk of infection.

Screening of high-risk patients - for example those who come in to the hospital from other hospitals or care homes - has been happening at the Trust for some years.

The new screening system aims to ensure most adults will now be tested for MRSA.

The initiative follows the publication of figures which show the East and North Herts NHS Trust - which runs Lister - has recorded its lowest levels of MRSA blood infections to date.

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During 2008/09, it recorded 18 MRSA cases, which is less than its target of 21. This compares to 33 cases recorded in 2007/08.

Clostridium difficile has smashed its target of 183 for 2008/09, recording 114 cases during the year. This compares to 354 cases recorded in 2007/08.

Nurse consultant and lead nurse for infection control, Helen O'Connor, said: "By screening patients, we are able to treat those found to be carrying the MRSA bacteria before their admission.

"This reduces the risk of infection to our patients and transference of the bacteria to others."

She added: "Of course screening, while a very important step, is not the whole answer.

"We have a wide range of initiatives in place already that have played a large role in helping us to drive down infection rates, which are now at their lowest ever."

One initiative was the installation and upgrade of washing areas and toilet facilities on many of the wards last year.

MRSA screening will be extended to cover patients admitted as emergencies from 2010.

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