SURF Workshop 31st January 2013

Goodenough College, London

Maria Cann and Helen Bronstein attended the SURF workshop in London where Health literacy, the MRSA screening patient experience research and priorities for future research were worked through.

Enrique Castro Sanchez, from the Centre for Infection Prevention & Management gave an outline on projects SURF had given feedback on in terms of future research going forward and an overview of what health literacy is, and how this can impact on people and their approach to healthcare.

A definition of Health Literacy from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the USA is: "the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions"

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services describe Health Literacy as "the ability to understand health information and to use that information to make good decisions about your health and medical care"

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states that health information can overwhelm even people with advanced literacy skills. About one third of the adult population in the United States has limited health literacy.

Limited health literacy can affect your ability to

Fill out complex forms
Locate providers and services
Share personal information such as health history
Take care of yourself
Manage a chronic disease
Understand how to take medicines

Some startling figures included in Enrique's presentation highlighted that as many as 1 in 6 patients in hospital may not receive their antibiotics. Patients need to be aware of the importance of their treatment to raise this with healthcare professionals and to understand the implications and importance of completing the course of medication given to them.

Enrique said that research has shown that poor health literacy is linked with people's perceptions of their health, those who believe they have poor health literacy are more likely to say they have poor health. They are also more likely to present at A&E placing a burden on health services. Good quality information is key to helping people make decisions about their health.

Caroline Lafarge / Alison Tingle, University of West London presented findings on the MRSA screening patient experience study giving an overview of findings and the workshop considered recommendations, including the development of patient reported experience measures. The report is still confidential so we are unable to report fully on the findings, however we can share a few of the findings: MRSA status on discharge was a potential issue with patients carrying on with the treatment, with the potential to cause antimicrobial resistance to develop with continued use. Local policies on changing of clothing and bedding varied, some participants were not aware of the need for these additional interventions for decolonisation to be effective. Taking this into consideration the kinds of measures that could be beneficial relating to MRSA screening could include: patients told the outcome of the screening; patients offered support with screening where needed; patients screened on discharge.

Jennie Wilson, University of West London presented findings from some research carried out locally on appropriate glove use, there was clearly a worrying trend in healthcare workers' perception on the correct use of gloves.

Handwashing was less frequent by healthcare workers in terms of clinical care. The 5 moments of hand hygiene should apply; for example, preparation of equipment should take place, then handwashing and gloving ensuring an aseptic technique. However there was only 39% of compliance with the correct technique. This was observed in 164 procedures during 2011.

SURF members helped design questions for research to give the patient's perspective - to help design a public questionnaire on the public's perception of healthcare workers use of gloves.

There were also opportunities to be involved in deciding priorities for future research. One area in particular related to E.coli bacteraemia, one of the most frequent infections seen both in hospital and in the community, mortality rates are high with around a third of patients potentially losing their life, so this was viewed as an important priority for research and intervention.

Work will continue through teleconferencing on the EPIC guidelines for infection prevention and control.

All of this work involves services users such as ourselves and is also an opportunity to learn about healthcare associated infections and strategies to prevent them. If you think you would like to be involved then join SURF today.