Opinion Former Article

Leaders must heed the World Health Organisation’s advice on preventing infections

The latest Public Health England figures show healthcare associated infections are rising when compared to the same period last year.

Whilst there has been success in reducing MRSA bloodstream infections, figures show MSSA and Clostridium difficile increasing. Public Health England release the figures every month, reported over a 13-month period to compare trends.

The figures, published the day after the launch of the World Health Organisation’s #safeHANDs global hand hygiene campaign, show an increasing trend despite the successes with reductions in MRSA bloodstream infections.

Clostridium difficile has shown a 5% increase in the community when compared to the same period last year with 15,263 people being affected by this debilitating disease. Clostridium difficile has increased by 2% in our hospitals – that’s 5,636 people - this correlates with increases in the community with patients moving in and out of hospital. This disease is directly attributable to the high use of broad spectrum antibiotics, and also cross-infection with spores being spread in the environment and on healthcare workers’ and patients’ hands.

Cases of MSSA bloodstream infections have increased by 4% when compared to the same period last year with 3,033 infections being reported in hospitals. This compares to an 18% reduction in MRSA bloodstream infections over the same period. Interventions such as screening for MRSA before going into hospital will be directly attributable to this success. Line care and care of invasive devices (drips and catheters) are interventions that play a large role in reducing the bloodstream infections.

MRSA stands for Meticillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, and does not respond to Meticillin based antibiotics. MSSA is Meticillin Sensitive Staphylococcus Aureus, and as the name suggests will respond to this group of antibiotics. Staphylococcus Aureus or Staph is carried harmlessly on the skin in well people, it only becomes a problem when it breaches the skin or enters other organs of vulnerable patients whose immune systems are compromised. Because Staph is part of the normal bacterial flora on the skin it will always present healthcare with a challenge.

The World Health Organisation estimate that globally 500,000 people a day get infections whilst receiving healthcare, and 20,000 to 50,000 die as a result. Their solution, amongst other interventions, is better hand hygiene compliance.

New guidance on line and catheter care has been published by the World Health Organisation and we believe this will have a massive impact if healthcare workers are well trained in following the guidance. This comes as part of a raft of interventions to combat the growing problem with antimicrobial resistance.

Prevention is always better than cure, and leaders need to invest in well trained staff with the time to care.

MRSA Action UK published its manifesto last week calling on the newly elected government to continue to invest in the prevention of infections in our healthcare settings. Great strides are being made, but there is much more to do with many infections proving increasingly difficult to treat, and there are many that are not recorded.


For more information visit http://mrsaactionuk.net/manifesto.html

Derek Butler
Chair
MRSA Action UK
Email: derek.j.butler@mrsaactionuk.net
Telephone: 07762 741114

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