Hospital surveys use of infection-busting handwash

Staff at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital are surveying use of infection-beating alcohol gels at the entrances to the hospital's wards to see how many people are using the handwashes.

Around 40 per cent of the population carries MRSA, (the technical term is colonised – which does not mean infected) and it will not normally pose any problems. It is only when MRSA gets into cuts or wounds that it can cause problems.

With MRSA carried by a significant proportion of the general public and even by domestic pets* such as dogs, cats and rabbits, protecting vulnerable patients is paramount for staff, visitors and patients.

MRSA is a close relation of Staphlyococcus Aureus and is resistant to some antibiotics. Most people will be unaware they carry it but they can easily pass it on. Most people found to have Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) will remain well, it will not cause them to be ill and does not cause problems for healthy people.

In hospitals MRSA may become a serious problem when it occupies open wounds, particularly in those patients whose immune systems are already under strain either through disease, or general debilitation. MRSA can be treated by some antibiotics but not others.

Handwashing is an important weapon in the fight against the spread of infection and surveys are being conducted by volunteers to see how many visitors, patients and members of hospital staff use the alcohol gels.

Christine Baxter, Director of Nursing and Education, said: “People are rightly worried about healthcare-associated infections, such as MRSA, and we are keen to help prevent the spread of infection and this survey will help us to see if the message is getting across to everyone.

“We constantly improve our infection control methods and all staff are trained to properly wash their hands at their induction as well as regular refresher courses for all staff. We also screen MRSA screen patients coming in for specific high-risk operations.”

· The Trust’s MRSA figures and information about MRSA are available by clicking here 

Notes to editors

* – research by the Health Protection Agency confirms domestic animals can carry MRSA.

Tuesday 14th of December 2004 05:00:47 PM