No cases of MRSA at Suffolk hospital

HOSPITAL chiefs say they are winning the battle against infection after revealing there had been no new cases of MRSA at their Suffolk unit in the past six months.

James Mortlock

HOSPITAL chiefs say they are winning the battle against infection after revealing there had been no new cases of MRSA at their Suffolk unit in the past six months.

Measures put in place to tackle infections at West Suffolk Hospital were commended following the news that the last MRSA bloodstream infection - also known as MRSA bacteraemia - was recorded at the Bury St Edmunds unit in early December 2007.

It was also revealed that the four wards closed to new admissions earlier this month because of an outbreak of the winter vomiting virus had been fully cleaned and were reopened last week.


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During the outbreak - which affected dozens of patients and closed almost a quarter of wards to new admissions - anyone who might be suffering with norovirus was urged to stay away.

The latest MRSA figures showed the West Suffolk had beaten stiff Health Protection Agency targets. In 2007/8 the target was 15 cases and West Suffolk Hospital NHS Trust recorded 14 - a drop from 27 cases the previous year.

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Cases of MRSA on the skin have also been cut at the hospital from 70/80 cases this time last year to an average of 40/50 cases.

Dr Caroline Barker, infection control doctor at the hospital, said: “We have made significant progress in reducing the number of healthcare associated infections occurring at the hospital.

“This is partly thanks to the diligence of staff, patients and visitors, who have taken on board the hand hygiene message by using the gel provided on each ward. However, we refuse to be complacent, as each case means a patient is affected - and those patients can often be frail or elderly.”

MRSA can sit harmlessly on the skin or in the nasal passages. However, it is when this type of MRSA comes into contact with the bloodstream, sometimes through intravenous drips and tubes, that MRSA bacteraemia can occur.

Dr Barker added: “There is a very big difference between a bloodstream infection and finding MRSA sitting on the skin.

“As part of our rigorous infection control practices, we screen vulnerable patients and those coming into the hospital for surgery to see if there is MRSA on the skin or in the nose. We also screen patients who have been in hospital for three weeks or more, which means we can pick up any MRSA on the skin before it is transferred to the bloodstream - and therefore before it becomes a problem.

“If we find MRSA on the skin, we can treat it with creams and special skin cleansers, and we are cautious to ensure it is not transferred to any wounds. Reducing healthcare associated infections remains our number one priority and we are determined to maintain our record and keep any cases to an absolute minimum.”

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