Hospital staff praised for halving infection rates in a year

Infection rates at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have fallen to a record low, new figures reveal today.

Hospital staff have been hailed for their hard work in delivering amongst the lowest infection rates in the country. In the financial year 2008/09, there were 15 cases of MRSA infection (down from 33 the year before) and 139 cases of C difficile (down from 326 the year before).  Of the 15 MRSA cases, five were patients who had acquired the infection in the community before being admitted to hospital. 

The Trust's MRSA target for 2008/09 was no more than 26 cases while treating over 126,000 in-patients. The figures show that over the past year MRSA has fallen by 54 per cent and C diff by 57 per cent.

Dr Judith Richards, Consultant Medical Microbiologist & Director, Infection Prevention and Control at NNUH, attributed the fall to the Trust's zero tolerance approach to infection.

She said: “There has been a culture change from accepting the infections happen to a zero tolerance approach. Infection prevention and control is everybody's business and we are all committed to reducing the risk to our patients from the board room to the wards.

“MRSA is one of the more well known infections but there will always be new organisms which will develop and sweep through the community. These infections then show up in hospitals where older patients and those with complex health problems are more vulnerable to infection.

“This has led us to develop a series of measures such as patient screening programmes, staff training, and regular audit which help us to maintain high standards. Keeping the environment clean, hand-washing and using single rooms to isolate patients with an infection are also top priorities.”

Chief executive Anna Dugdale said: “Our staff deserve a great deal of credit for having taken the battle against infection to heart and they have really delivered for our patients.”

The Trust has also expanded its current MRSA screening programme from April 1 for all patients to have screening before they have elective (planned) surgery.

Patients who are colonised by MRSA are offered a special antibacterial skin wash and cream for the nostrils which helps to clear the bacteria prior to hospital admission and reduces the risk of an infection.

C diff infection is associated with repeated antibiotic use in patients who have a chronic health condition. The antibiotics are often necessary to help patients recover from illnesses such as chest or kidney infections. In turn, these drugs can wipe out the good bacteria in the gut, leading to severe diarrhoea caused by the growth of the c-difficile bacteria. The rate of infection is reduced by changes to antibiotic prescribing, the use of isolation rooms, and deep cleaning of infected areas, as well as scrupulous hand hygiene.

Tuesday 14th of April 2009 10:00:55 AM