Opinion Former Article

Public Health England figures show MRSA bloodstream infections at an all-time low

Latest figures from Public Health England show that in the month of July 2015 the numbers of MRSA bloodstream infections at the lowest level since targets for reducing MRSA were set in 2004.

Just 15 cases of MRSA bacteraemia were reported in July 2015. The figure should be treated with caution as numbers are sometimes adjusted at later dates after post infection reviews. Figures also show that numbers attributable to being acquired outside of the hospital setting are also low. The interventions to reduce the number of bloodstream infections include emphasis on invasive device and line care, with assiduous attention to aseptic technique, effective hand hygiene and attention to the sterility of equipment being used. The NHS is to be commended on the continuing reduction in the numbers of MRSA bloodstream infections.

However, the number of people with Clostridium difficile infections attributable as outside of the hospital setting has increased to just above the level we saw last July and total 1,353 during July 2015. In hospital 467 patients succumbed to Clostridium difficile in July 2015, again the highest number in the last 13 month period, but still much lower than levels reported in 2004.

Clostridium difficle is associated with certain types of antibiotic which upsets the natural antimicrobial flora in the gut. In a care setting it can spread very easily if infection prevention and control procedures are not adequate. Environmental cleaning and assiduous hand washing are some of the interventions that are important in preventing the spread of the disease. Appropriate antibiotics can help to reduce the burden of Clostridium difficle, which is why prescribers need to adhere to good antimicrobial stewardship.

There is still a way to go in terms of reducing the numbers of infections that patients are vulnerable to when receiving healthcare, as any infection that could have been avoided is one too many. These figures are encouraging and are a marker of the success in terms of the interventions we have seen so far. There are bigger challenges ahead though with bacteria constantly evolving and multi-drug resistant organisms and surgical site infections proving a huge challenge. Well trained and resourced staff must be a priority for these successes to continue and provide even safer healthcare.


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