Drop in number of MRSA cases at Galway hospitals

The number of cases of MRSA infection at Galway University Hospitals [University Hospital Galway and Merlin Park Hospital] has dropped - 10 patients with MRSA bloodstream infections were treated at the city’s public hospitals in the first six months of this year.

Two of those people already had the infection when they were admitted.

The latest Health Protection Surveillance Centre data indicates the MRSA blood stream infection rate is now down to 0.09/1000 bed days compared with 0.21/1000 bed days for the same period in 2008 - this represents a decrease of 13 patients.

The total number of patients with MRSA blood stream infection in GUH has declined in recent years from 47 in 2008 to 35 in 2009, according to the HSE West.

The 2009 figure includes seven cases (20 per cent ) where the patients already had the infection before they were admitted to GUH.

Professor Martin Cormican, a consultant microbiologist at Galway University Hospitals, says the prevention, control and treatment of hospital infection, including MRSA, is a major challenge for all hospitals throughout the world.

“At GUH we monitor the number of all staphylococcus aureus infections (MRSA and MSSA ) carefully, and have instituted a quality improvement plan to decrease the total rate of staphylococcus aureus bloodstream infection whether due to MRSA or MSSA.

“However, we are much more limited in what we can do to control the increase in the number of patients coming into the hospital who have already developed staphylococcus aureus infection in the community.”

The HSE West says it has introduced many changes in recent years in a bid to reduce the number of cases of the hospital superbug at its facilities. These include:-

· Increased training in and facilities for hand hygiene and participation in the annual WHO Hand Hygiene day in May;

· Increased testing for MRSA in high risk patients;

· Setting up an special isolation ward to offer specialised care to people with MRSA, including measures to clear it when possible, and to help keep people with the infection apart from other patients;

· Revised hospital infection prevention and control policies on MRSA and policies on the placement of and care of venous catheters (IV drips ), including audit of documentation and introduction of a process known as the PVC care bundle [Peripheral Vascular Catheter (PVC ) related infections are the third leading cause of device related bacteria in the blood]

· Introduction of aseptic non touch technique training pack in 2010. This includes a component on care of intravascular catheters;

· Increased education and feedback to all hospital staff;

· Development and revision of patient information leaflets on many hospital acquired infections to encourage patient education and involvement;

· Development and updating of antibiotic guidelines to help provide early effective treatment of infection.

Professor Cormican says GUH they are pleased that the initiatives they have introduced have led to a decrease in infections.

“These initiatives will continue to protect our patients as best we can.”

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