Thursday 26 April 2007
Plymouth leads the way in testing
Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust is one of only 2% of all hospital trusts in the country currently using rapid MRSA, according to new data published today by Dr Foster.
The number of cases of MRSA and cases of C. difficile have been falling steadily at Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust and plans are underway to bring the numbers down even further in the future.
Dr Peter Jenks, Director of Infection Control and Prevention said: “The rapid testing equipment tests the genetic fingerprint of infections such as MRSA and the speed at which it can do this and then allow us to intervene quickly and effectively has definitely helped us reduce infection rates.
“We have used this rapid testing in our cardiac and critical care units and in those units we have seen up to 50% reductions in the number of cases of MRSA.
“We are now expanding the testing and screening work we do into other units around the hospital.”
The report by Dr Foster also compiles data on whether Trusts isolates patients with infections. Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust always undertakes a risk assessment on patients with infections to ensure that those who need to be isolated are but other factors, such as good handy hygiene, have a much more significant impact on reducing rates.
Dr Jenks added: “One of the ways we plan to reduce infections even further is by increasing the number of patients who are screened prior to being admitted to hospital.
“Around 40% of the MRSA cases the Trust records involves patients who have come through our doors with MRSA which has been acquired in the community so screening patients prior to them coming into hospital is very important in the fight to limit the spread of infections.
“We already screen high-risk admissions and patients who are due to have hip and knee joint replacements, vascular surgery and cardiac surgery, as well as those on our Critical Care and Haemodialysis Units. Those found to be carrying MRSA harmlessly up their nose are then prescribed eradication therapy to get rid of the bacteria before it can become a problem for them or anyone else when they enter hospital.
“In future we will screen all of the above plus patients undergoing plastic, thoracic and neurosurgery; all those being admitted to our cancer wards, all patients seen in the surgical pre-assessment unit and all emergency medical and surgical admissions over 60 years of age.”
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Notes to Editors
The hospital Trust’s infection control team has been working to reduce the number of cases of MRSA and other hospital acquired infections.
Between April 2006 and January 2007, the Trust reported 336 new cases of MRSA, compared to 434 for the same period last year. In the same time period, the Trust reported 55 MRSA bacteraemias (blood stream infections) compared to 79 for April 2003-January 2004, the baseline year for the Government’s MRSA reduction target.
For C. difficile, a bacterium found in the gut which can cause illness if its growth goes unchecked, between April 2006 and January 2007, the Trust reported 167 cases compared to 174 for the same period last year. Derriford already has one on the lowest C. difficile rates in the country.
The work has included:
• Joining the National Patient Safety Agency’s Clean Your Hands campaign. Clean Your Hands aims to promote good hand hygiene practice and help minimise infection risks in hospitals. A core component of the campaign is to increase the use of alcohol handrubs by clinical staff and encourage patients to ask staff if they have cleaned their hands.
• Increasing the presence of the Infection Control team throughout the hospital. We have started an infection control ward round and now visit every patient with MRSA every week.
• We have also invested more than £50,000 in a new state-of-the-art MRSA screening system. This technology can detect the DNA ‘fingerprint’ of MRSA in a swab without the need to grow the bacterium first - cutting the time from taking a swab to obtaining a result from 5 days to 3 hours. This will allow us to extend pre-operative testing for MRSA to more patients having more operations.
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