Lowest MRSA and C diff rates in the county
Latest figures released today by the Health Protection Agency reveal the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust had the lowest MRSA and C diff rates in the county.
Over the past year, April 2008 to March 2009, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which is the busiest hospital trust in the region, has had among the lowest infections in the East of England.
|Queen Elizabeth, Kings Lynn
Source: HPA, April 2008 to March 2009. MRSA bacteraemia rate per 10,000 bed days.
Dr Judith Richards, Consultant Medical Microbiologist and Director of Infection Prevention and Control at NNUH, attributed the current 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 but there remains no room for complacency. 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 best 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.”
The Trust has this year expanded its MRSA screening programme to all patients undergoing elective (planned) surgery. The Department of Health assumes that between 7.5 per cent and 10 per cent population may be colonised by MRSA which can be carried on the skin without any health problems. Data from the NNUH screening programme indicates this figure is closer to two per cent locally. The bacteria can cause an infection when a patient has a deep wound or the skin's defences are penetrated by equipment, such as an intravenous drip.
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.
The Trust has also seen rates of another infection called Clostridium difficile (C.diff) continue to fall during 2008/09.
|C Diff cases
|C Diff rate
|Queen Elizabeth, Kings Lynn
Source: HPA, April 2008 to March 2009. C diff rate per 1,000 bed days.
This 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 diff 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.