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Archived articles from January to March 2009


Expert calls for another 30 million to fight superbugs
HUGH PENNINGTON: Described isolation wards as an "insurance policy".
Kris Gilmartin - Herald Scotland
Published on 21 Dec 2009

The UK's leading bacteriologist has called for an extra 30 milion of Government funding to help fight hospital superbugs.
Aberdeen University's Professor Hugh Pennington believes a multi-million-pound war chest should be set aside to build isolation wards in hospitals.
The Scottish Government has already pledged 54million over the next three years to tackle hospital-acquired infections (HAI) - including 5.4million to recruit 600 cleaners.
But Professor Pennington claims the only way to beat superbugs, such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile (C.diff), is to establish purpose-built isolation units to treat infected patients.
He said: "If we crack these bugs properly, then we will be spending much less on dealing with the consequences. Those looking to save money should see this (investment) as an insurance policy."
HAIs cause around 380,000 bed days to be lost each year around Scotland.
The Scottish Government is committed to providing single rooms for patients hit by the bugs in all new hospitals.
But yesterday Professor Pennington warned that further investment is needed to ensure those at risk of spreading infections are removed from wards.
He said: "Money is an issue here because this requires building isolation rooms for patients and also having the staffing levels to run these properly. If we can stop the bug transmitting to other patients then we will have half the outbreaks."
The Scotland Patients' Association backed the proposals, and went further by suggesting that there should be a specialist infection hospital in each board area.
Chairwoman Margaret Watt said: "Of course this is a good idea, but it should have been done a long time ago as we have been saying for years."
A Scottish Government spokesman said a raft of measures to tackle the bugs had been brought in, and C.diff and MRSA cases had fallen in recent years.
"HAI is a challenge which goes beyond party politics and we welcome suggestions, such as those from Professor Pennington, as to how we can best tackle infections and maintain public confidence," he added.


Derek Butler talks to Phil Williams, BBC Radio 5 Live
Friday 27 November 2009

Derek Butler, talks to Phil Williams BBC 5 live, about the damning findings revealed during spot checks by the Care Quality Commission, and asks whose responsibility is it to ensure a clean, safe environment?

Derek Butler, you'll know, the Chair of MRSA Action UK, you'll have anecdotal evidence of how widespread this is across the UK, how widespread is it, this problem of dirty hospitals?

"It's quite widespread, because in 2007 when the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells incident was reported we actually gave the Health Minister Ann Keen information to show that there were 50 trusts worse than Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells. When the Mid Staffordshire incident came out in March of this year we presented to the Department of Health the Dr Fosters Hospital Guide showing there were hospitals with standardised mortality rates similar to Mid Staffs, and we actually said that if they looked at that information they would see that, the Department of Health appear not use the information in Dr Foster's Hospital Guide for some reason we don't know why, but we have actually asked them to use it and to correlate this data to send Improvement Teams in. What we are annoyed at as a patient group, is that these are human beings that are being affected and their families, what we seem to forget is that these people have had unnecessary deaths and the effects ripple through to their families and their lives have been changed forever, they are never going to be the same. The Government have to take some responsibility for this, because we have evidence that the Department of Health are removing the Improvement Teams from April, who go in to look at these hospitals. They're removing the central support from NPSA and the cleanyourhands campaign and leaving the hospitals to get on with it themselves. There was supposed to be a patient and public information campaign to go out to the public to ask them about the hospitals and hand hygiene, and to make them aware of the problems and infections, and they've delayed that now til spring 2010, it was supposed to be done this year but the Government have delayed it. Now with respect to them these are not isolated incidents, we've heard Alan Johnson say it twice, I hope Andy Burnham doesn't say it, they are not isolated, it is happening and it will happen again until the regulators tighten up."

Derek what are we talking about is it lack of staff?

"It's not just lack of staff. It's the general ethos within the NHS, I work for an industry that's the most regulated in the world, and I heard your first speaker talk about things on the floor and reporting them. You don't report dirty bloodstains on the floor, you clean them, it's getting the nursing staff to clean up, it's getting whoever spots it to clean up."
You are not saying that nurses are wilfully ignoring that kind of stuff are you?
"No what it is, is the demarcation, if you look at the nurses there are certain things they'll clean and certain things they won't. The Basildon example was the catheter bag on the floor, that's a nurses responsibility, you've got torn curtains in the ward, surely the staff must have seen them and reported them and said they wanted something doing about it, in my industry the staff take responsibility for their environment and they take ownership of that."
Baroness Young, former Head of the CQC resigned later that week with reports in the media of a rift with the Health Secretary over the way the reports were released.


A&E patients are admitted minutes before Government deadline 'to meet targets'
By Daniel Martin
Last updated at 10:50 PM on 18th November 2009

Patients from casualty units are being admitted to hospital wards in pre-deadline surges to beat the Government's four-hour waiting target, it emerged yesterday.

Medical chiefs said the practice meant people with minor needs were being prioritised ahead of those with more serious conditions --and that it is hitting the fight against superbugs.

Figures from the NHS Information Centre indicate that thousands are being bundled on to wards to avoid breaching the target that no one should have to wait longer than four hours to be treated in A&E.

Although most A&E patients are seen within the four hour guideline, figures a disproportionate amount are admitted in the last 10 minutes of the window.

Earlier this year, pressure to meet Whitehall targets was blamed by the health watchdog for the deaths of up to 400 patients at Mid Staffordshire Hospitals Trust.

Derek Butler, chairman of MRSA Action UK, said yesterday: 'The four hour target is good but we know that hospitals are fiddling them so they don't breach the target.'

Figures from the NHS Information Centre reveal that there is a peak in the number admitted to a ward in the ten minutes before the four hour deadline is up.

Almost all patients in England are seen within the four-hour target, and 21 per cent are admitted.

But the percentage admitted peaks in the last ten minutes before the cut-off, when 66 per cent go on to a ward. Six per cent of all people are dealt with in this final ten minutes, although at some trusts 15 per cent wait this long.

Dr Mark Porter, of the British Medical Association's consultants committee, said: 'It is worrying that in some areas there is an increase in the number of patients leaving emergency departments just before the four-hour deadline.

'This suggests that when patients have been waiting close to four hours, there is a rush to discharge or admit them so that the hospital meets the four-hour target.'

Those admitted to hospital wards in the pre-deadline surge are often not screened for superbugs, putting other patients at risk, it is feared.

Mr Butler said: 'Not everyone who gets placed on a ward will be tested for a superbug because to do so would grind departments to a halt.'

'Patients should not be put at risk in any way shape or form just to meet a target,' he added.

Health minister Mike O'Brien said: 'Meeting the standard does not mean that the quality of care is compromised. We have always made it clear that quality of care and clinical need must come first and we expect trusts to ensure that patient safety is their first priority.'


NHS is 'losing track of rising death toll from hospital bugs'
By Daniel Martin
Last updated at 9:45 AM on 10th November 2009

Thousands of patients are dying because the Health Service has 'taken its eye off the ball' on many types of hospital infection, warn MPs.
They say the NHS has become so focused on tackling two types of bug - MRSA and C.diff - that it has lost track of the rest.
Only 15 per cent of health care-acquired infections are down to MRSA and C.diff - meaning that more than 80 per cent are falling under the radar.
Studies show there have been dramatic increases in the number of hospital patients coming down with other bugs such as E.coli.
But the NHS says it has no idea how many deaths there are every year from healthcare-acquired infections other than MRSA and C.diff.
Ministers have ignored calls to force trusts to record all cases but experts say annual fatalities run into the thousands.
A report today by MPs of the Commons public accounts committee warns that the cost of dealing with the hospital bugs crisis costs more than 1billion pounds a year.
It says the situation could get worse because bugs are becoming resistant to antibiotics because of overuse.
Whitehall waiting-time targets have also put people at risk because beds are not being left empty long enough for them to be properly cleaned, according to the report
Committee chairman Edward Leigh said: 'The Department of Health has achieved significant reductions in MRSA bloodstream and Clostridium difficile infections, for which it set national targets. But, in so doing, it has taken its eye off the ball regarding all other healthcare-associated infections.
'The best available evidence is that other - just as deadly but also avoidable - infections, such as surgical site infections and pneumonias, have increased.'
He said progress was being hit by a lack of decent data.
'The Department is refusing to introduce mandatory surveillance of all hospital acquired infections - as we have recommended twice,' he said. 'If it had, it would now have a better grip on what is going on.'
One estimate is that 300,000 people suffer from a healthcare-associated infection every year - 8 per cent of all hospital patients.
Derek Butler, of campaign group MRSA Action UK, said there were likely to be up to 20,000 deaths a year from infections not being monitored by the NHS.
Figures in the MPs' report show that while MRSA and C.diff rates have fallen, other infections - which can be just as dangerous - have shown dramatic increases.
Cases of E.coli soared 33 per cent between 2003 and 2007 to around 22,000, while the bug 'Klebisella spp' is up 34 per cent to 5,000 cases.
The number of victims of 'coagulase negative Staphylococcal' has risen by 90 per while MSSA is up nine per cent.
The total number of bloodstream infections - not including MRSA and C. diff - is estimated to have risen from 80,000 in 2003 to 105,000 in 2007.


Exclusive: Nurse who caught MRSA in 'dirtiest' hospital ward sues NHS
Oct 25 2009 Marion Scott

A NURSE is making legal history by suing the NHS after contracting MRSA in the hospital where he worked.
Mark Thompson, 45, from Glasgow, is launching a 50,000pound claim against Greater Glasgow & Clyde NHS.
He claims his health has been destroyed after being infected while working at the city's Victoria Infirmary three years ago.
Mark said the working environment in his medical ward was dirty and little attention was paid to patient hygiene.
He became infected after grazing his shin while moving beds around the ward and remained off sick for a year.
The MRSA infection "ate away" a quarter of an inch of flesh from his right shin.
He said: "The ward I worked on, 17, wasn't particularly clean.
"There were also patients who had abused drink or drugs and sometimes their personal cleanliness wasn''t a priority.
"While I was in the Victoria Infirmary being treated for the infection, a cleaner from ward 17 stopped by to see me and told me it was the dirtiest in the whole hospital.
"The graze got infected and tested positive for MRSA.
"I had four flare-ups and also developed the very similar and painful infection cellulitis because my skin and system had been compromised.
"In the end, I was hospitalised twice and my health has completely broken down.
"I was forced to spend so much off, almost a year, my contract was terminated.
"Because my system has been so badly compromised with MRSA, I'll probably never be able to work in a hospital or nursing home again. There must be thousands out there suffering the same risks."
In a report prepared for the legal action, infection expert Professor Hugh Pennington said: "On the balance of probabilities, the source was a hospital as it is much more common there than in the community."
Last year, Mark's lawyer Cameron Fyfe launched the first MRSA test case to be heard in a Scottish court.
The case involves great-gran Elizabeth Miller, 72, of Kilsyth, Stirlingshire, who contracted MRSA while recovering from a heart op at Glasgow Royal Infirmary in 2001.
She was given the go-ahead to proceed in the Court of Session last summer and the landmark case is due to start in next month.
Irenee O'Neill of the Independent Federation of Nurses said: "We don't believe there's nearly enough screening."
An NHS Glasgow spokeswoman said: "It would be inappropriate for us to comment any further on the circumstances of his departure from the NHS."



Running in memory of Sam
Monday, September 28, 2009, 07:20

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Friends of a teenager who died of MRSA at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire took part in a fun run in her memory.
More than 40 runners donned fancy dress to take part in the event at Westport Lake, in honour of student Sam Fallon who died in May last year, aged 17.
Organisers have already collected 370 pounds and are hoping to be able to donate a total of about 700 pounds to MRSA Action UK.
Eighteen-year-old Jade Hampton, who had known Sam for seven years, organised the event.
Sam, from Campbell Road, Stoke, had suffered from an auto-immune liver condition since she was 12.

Blackburn Citizen


Blackburn baby unit superbug spotted by 'vigilance'
5:21pm Monday 28th September 2009

By Neil Docking

HEALTH bosses have said how "constant vigilance" helped them identify a superbug in the neonatal intensive care baby unit.
Seven children contracted MSSA - methicillin sensitive staphylococcus aureus - at Blackburn Royal Hospital, leading to admissions being limited.
MSSA is bacteria found commonly on the skin and can be treated with anti-biotics. If it turns into an infection in the bloodstream it can cause serious illness.
The babies have the bacteria on their skin - but it is not in their blood-streams, and none are currently ill, according to hospital chiefs.
They are being treated in isolation and may remain in hospital for several weeks to ensure they are free of the bacteria.
Rineke Schram, director of infection control for East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said the superbug had been caught at a very early stage thanks to the hospital's screening processes.
Beverley Aspin, lead infec-tion prevention and control matron, said the hospitals employed a huge range of infection control procedures.
She said: "Hand washing is only the first line of defence.
"Bacteria are invisible to the naked eye, and reproduce very quickly, so can still linger undetected on soft furnishings and clothing."
Measures include: Screening patients for MSSA in advance of planned operations, and prescribing antibacterial wash to use if necessasry in the days before the operation; Isolating in-patients found with a resistant organism or potential infection to prevent its spread; Ensuring staff are fully trained in a non-touch technique to reduce the risk of acquiring infections; Insisting staff adhere to the "bare below the elbows" protocol, meaning they can decontaminate hands effect-ively and prevent micro-organisms passing from one person or surface to another.
Ms Aspin said: "Any area which is known to have had an infection-causing bacteria is deep-cleaned.
"This means it is emptied, with all hard surfaces cleaned with anti-bacterial agents."
Derek Butler, chairman of MRSA Action UK, advises patients and families who have experienced superbugs such as MSSA and MRSA.
And the 54-year-old from Kirkham said MSSA can be lethal if it enters the bloodstream.
He said: "With these babies the doctors and nurses in Blackburn now have to be very careful.
"If they are infected with it on their skin and then are given intravenous treatment this will increase the risk.
"I am sure these doctors and nurses will be highly- trained and will follow these procedures but everybody needs to know MSSA can be contracted in a number of ways."


Medical News
MRSA Action welcomes new CQC study into hospitals and care homes
Wednesday 23rd September 2009

A new study by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) involving the prevention of avoidable infections has been welcomed by MRSA Action UK.
The CQC is examining arrangements for care homes and hospitals to work in conjunction with each other in this area and the charity said it hopes the research will enable it to better understand the measures required to make improvements.
MRSA Action claimed to be in favour of a "joined up approach" to care and stated that good communication is the key to making this work.
Pointing to a programme by the Improvement Foundation that has had success in this regard, it stated: "We would like to see the CQC look at this good practice and ensure that all care providers are taking their responsibilities seriously and not working in isolation."
Founded by a number of people who have had their lives affected by MRSA, the organisation campaigns for better standards in hospitals and other healthcare facilities in order to improve safety.
Written by Alex Franklin Stortford


Official number of superbug deaths falls 30 per cent in a year, but campaigners say figures don't give true toll
By Jenny Hope
Last updated at 7:55 PM on 19th August 2009

Stringent hygiene measures were introduced in hospitals following an explosion in the number of superbug cases
The number of deaths linked to the hospital infections MRSA and C.difficile fell last year for the first time, official figures show.
Latest data from the Office for National Statistics showed the number of death certificates mentioning C.diff as a contributory factor was down 29 per cent on 2007 to 5,931.
It is the first fall in mentions of the debilitating stomach bug since records began in 1999.
The number of death certificates mentioning MRSA fell by 23 per cent over the same period, to 1,230 - the second drop running.
But figures covering the past five years put the toll at almost 34,000, with more than 7,000 deaths linked to MRSA and just under 27,000 to C.diff.
Campaigners claimed that was the 'tip of the iceberg', and said there was under-reporting of the infections.
The 2008 figures showed that deaths involving C.diff fell by 27 per cent for men and 30 per cent for women from 2007.
For MRSA, there was a 31 per cent drop among men but only a 13 per cent drop among women.
Derek Butler, chairman of MRSA Action, said the ONS figures were under-reporting the real picture and a study had found many death certificates were wrong.
He said: 'One of our members lost a loved one who had cancer.
'He contracted MRSA in hospital, which prevented him from having chemotherapy that might have helped him live another two years. Yet the death certificate reported only the cancer and made no mention of MRSA.
'The Government and the management of the NHS should introduce technologies used by the Dutch to save lives - reducing bed occupancy and providing more isolation facilities and screening. We must not become complacent.'
Dr Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said: 'For any patient to die as a result of MRSA or C.difficile is an absolute tragedy, but these figures do show a move in the right direction.
'Nurses have worked hard to ensure infection rates are reduced, improving the quality of care for all patients.
'However, there is no room for complacency - nurses need to be given the necessary authority and resources to ensure that infection rates continue to fall.'
Chief nursing officer Christine Beasley, said: 'Preventing healthcare-associated infections continues to be a top priority for the Government. While one avoidable infection is one too many, we welcome the reduction in deaths associated with MRSA and C.difficile.'
Shadow health secretary, Andrew Lansley, said: 'Despite the welcome decrease in the last year, there are still an appalling number of people dying from hospital infections - nearly three times as many as are killed on the roads every year.
'These statistics expose Labour's failure. Despite years of repeated warnings, many hospitals are still treating patients in crowded wards and lack basic facilities to isolate patients who have an infection.
'The Conservatives are the only party with a zero tolerance policy to tackle hospital infections.
'We would double the number of single rooms in NHS hospitals so that all patients who need to be isolated can be. We are calling on the Government to do the same.'



King's College Hospital failing to protect against MRSA
by: Dominic Tobin - 23 July 2009

Camberwell's KCH, one of London's biggest hospitals, is found to be in breach of Government regulations protecting against superbugs and is criticised by inspectors from the Care Quality Commission
ONE of London's biggest hospitals has been placed under close scrutiny after inspectors discovered soiled mattresses, dirty commodes, mouldy cupboards and other failures to protect against superbugs.
On two surprise visits earlier this year, King's College Hospital in south London was found to be in breach of Government regulations to protect patients, workers and others against deadly infections such as antibiotic-resistant MRSA and Clostridium difficile.
Inspectors from the Care Quality Commission released a damning report which reveals basic hygiene practices were not being followed.
They wrote: "None of the staff interviewed in the four wards inspected had been trained on how to clean and check mattresses or commodes. We found some commodes soiled with body fluids and soiled mattresses.
"We found other dirty equipment used for patients' care in storerooms that we were told had been cleaned."
The report also criticises dusty and cluttered store cupboards, bathrooms with peeling paint, dirty taps, overflows and shower seats, and storage units with mould on the wall.
Bed areas that should have been cleaned still had items left by previous patients in lockers and bedside tables.
"We found some commodes soiled with body fluids and soiled mattresses"
Derek Butler, chair of campaigning group MRSA Action UK said: "This is dreadful. There is no excuse for hospitals not to be clean. It's not rocket science. It's about the simplest things. Mattresses should not be stained at all. This is a breach of the law, and if King's College Hospital consistently breaks the rules then I would like to see the management removed."
Although it has powers to prosecute or fine the hospital, the CQC has put it under "close scrutiny" and will inspect it regularly.
The 950-bed hospital, which serves 700,000 people in Lambeth and Southwark, broke six measures in new regulations to reduce healthcare-associated infection, which it has had to comply with since 1 April this year.
Great Ormond Street, University College and Chelsea & Westminster hospitals were also inspected with no breaches. Ealing Hospital was in breach of one regulation because of stained mattresses.
King's College Hospital has submitted an action plan to the CQC. Its chief executive, Tim Smart, said: "We support the CQC inspection process, and we are using it as a means of focusing the organisation on delivering ever better quality of care. Our patients deserve the best care in a safe and clean environment, and all our staff are committed to taking hygiene and infection control very seriously."
In 2006 the trust paid 45,000 pounds to the family of Grace Nwamala Nkemdilim, 31, who died at King's College Hospitalafter contracting MRSA in 2001.
It has recently cut levels of MRSA infections, which remain just above average, and C diff infections, which are below average.


NHS faces call for inquiry into 'MRSA death'
Sophie Goodchild, Health Editor

"Abysmal care": Joyce Morrison caught the superbug while in hospital with a broken hip

A civil servant whose mother died after contracting a hospital superbug has launched a case against the NHS.
Helen Bronstein's mother, Joyce Morrison, 83, was admitted to Princess Alexandra hospital in Harlow with a broken hip.
But the great-grandmother picked up an MRSA infection and died on 13 July last year without leaving the hospital. Ms Bronstein is demanding an inquiry into her mother's "abysmal" care.
She made her complaint as dozens of relatives of superbug victims and campaigners today held a special service of remembrance in London. Families laid wreaths at the Innocent Victims Memorial stone during the ceremony at Westminster Abbey.
Initiatives such as deep-cleaning hospitals and improving hygiene standards have cut the rate of hospital infections, but campaigners warn that thousands of people die every year andBritain is still bottom of the European league for MRSA. It also scores badly on tackling MSSA, which is a variant strain of MRSA and nearly killed the actress Leslie Ash. Many trusts have also failed to hit government targets to halve MRSA bloodstream infections.
Ms Bronstein, 53, from Euston, believes her mother picked up the infection from a dirty cloth which X-ray staff used as a makeshift gown. The Essex NHS trust has not explained how she caught the superbug, which triggered an infection in her surgery wound.
"My mother was really bright and engaged. She was treated abysmally and they still won't tell us exactly how she caught MRSA nearly a year on," said Ms Bronstein.
"They took her for an X-ray in a gown but without underwear and instead draped this cloth over her. My fear is that is how she picked up the infection. They didn't tell us she had MRSA until my mother was already dying."
Princess Alexandra hospital apologised for not responding quickly enough to Ms Bronstein's complaint.
A spokesman said: "She (Mrs Morrison) did not die from MRSA but did contract the infection. The hospital has had correspondence with the family and a meeting in January. The family has raised a number of other issues. The hospital apologises for not responding quickly enough."
Derek Butler, chairman of MRSA Action, which organised today's tribute, said: "There have been improvements but rates are still higher than in 1997."


MRSA screening bill pushed in Congress
Wednesday, June 24, 2009

New legislation recently introduced in Congress would help to significantly reduce the incidence of an antibiotic-resistant, hospital acquired infection that kills nearly 19,000 Americans every year.
HR 2937, introduced by Representative Jackie Speier (CA), would require hospitals to screen patients to identify those who are carriers of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria as part of a strategy aimed at preventing the spread of MRSA infections to other patients. The bill requires hospitals to disclose MRSA infection rates to the public and encourages hospitals to follow other measures to improve patient safety. A similar measure (S. 1305) has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Robert Menendez (NJ).

The bill seeks to enact nationally what advocates such as Jeanine Thomas have achieved in 32 states, and requires:

 hospitals to screen all patients entering high-risk units for MRSA infection
 adoption of best practices including contact precautions among health care professionals to prevent MRSA's spread within hospitals
 patients testing positive for MRSA be informed of the result and given instructions on how to prevent the spread of their infection when discharged.
 hospitals to report the number of cases of hospital-acquired MRSA that occur within their facilities.

To track progress click here


World MRSA Day Momentum Builds In The US And The UK
23 Jun 2009

MRSA Survivors Network, the Chicago-based nonprofit and the official organization that launched World MRSA Day earlier this year is building momentum in the US, the UK and worldwide in its humanitarian grass-roots effort to raise awareness of the MRSA epidemic.
"As governments and world agencies continue to put their focus on swine flu and prepare to spend billions of dollars on it as they did with Avian flu; the true epidemic/pandemic, MRSA continues to be virtually ignored", states Jeanine Thomas, president of MRSA Survivors Network and the National Spokesperson for MRSA. "It is unconscionable what has been allowed to happen and MRSA has been swept under the carpet in healthcare facilities for decades and the purpose of World MRSA Day is to raise awareness."
Healthcare industry companies are stepping up and sponsoring World MRSA Day in the US and in the UK to raise awareness and save lives. In the U.S.; 3M, Tec Labs, Cepheid, Pfizer and others have lent their support and all have become true heroes in this movement to save lives.
The inaugural pre-launch kick-off event in the U.S. will be held Oct. 1st at Loyola University in Chicago with an international press conference, followed by the event. MRSA Action UK, who shares and alliance with MRSA Survivors Network are planning their event for Oct. 2nd. MRSA activists are organizing and holding events in their communities on Oct. 2nd and throughout October, MRSA Awareness Month. Activists can list their event on the official site-
MRSA Survivors Network and fellow activists are pushing for immediate action, legislation, funding, more stringent and pro-active infection control measures and enforcement by the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and governments to stop the massive loss of life and human suffering from preventable infections. World MRSA Day is embracing all survivors and their families who have suffered or lost a loved one from any multi-drug resistant infection.
Jeanine Thomas of MRSA Survivors Network was the first advocate in the U.S. to raise the alarm about MRSA and other healthcare-acquired infections and began her crusade in 2003. Ms. Thomas is a survivor of MRSA, sepsis, osteomyelitis and C. Diff and became critically ill and nearly died from the results of ankle surgery. She now lives with chronic MRSA infections.
MRSA Survivors Network
Article URL:


Superbug cases slashed by a third - but one in 12 patients still contracts an infection in hospital
By Jenny Hope
Last updated at 5:54 PM on 18th June 2009

Hospitals have met their target of a 30 per cent cut in patients affected by the potentially deadly C. diff bug.
But the new figures come as cases have started creeping up again, along with a small rise in MRSA infections.
Health Secretary Andy Burnham welcomed the figures, saying the NHS had hit its target of cutting C. diff infections two years ahead of schedule.
New figures have revealed that hospitals have successfully slashed superbug cases by a third - but one in 12 still contracts an infection
But critics claimed efforts to eradicate the bugs had reached a plateau and a new drive was needed to tackle these and other health-care associated infections.
One in 12 patients contracts an infection while in hospital inEngland, according to the National Audit Office.
Latest figures from the Health Protection Agency for January to March in England show there were 8,358 cases of C. diff in patients aged two and over.
This was a 36 per cent reduction over the same period last year, when 12,967 cases were reported, but a six per cent increase in the 7,908 cases reported from October to December 2008.
Over the first three months of 2009, there were 692 bloodstream infections of MRSA which was a cut of 29 per cent over the same quarter last year.
But it was a two per cent rise compared to the three month period October to December 2008, when 678 cases were reported.
In the financial year April 2008 to March 2009, 2,932 cases of MRSA were reported - a 34 per cent cut compared with the previous year.
Professor Mike Catchpole, deputy director of the HPA's Centre for Infections said: 'The substantial drop we have seen in MRSA bloodstream infections and C. difficile over the past year is impressive and a credit to the hard work of our colleagues in the NHS, strengthening good practice in infection control.
'Although very small, there have been increases in MRSA cases and C. difficile cases from the previous quarter but we have observed these before, within an overall annual fall, particularly in the first quarter of the calendar year.
Health secretary Andy Burnham welcomed the figures - but critics said the Government needed a new drive to tackle the issue
'If we are to continue to see reductions in healthcare associated infections it is vital that the measures which have won this significant success remain in place and that the public and healthcare workers recognise their importance.'
Mr Burnham said: 'I am exceptionally proud of the NHS staff who have truly risen to the tough challenge we set them to substantially reduce healthcare associated infections.
'Because of their tireless hard work the target to reduce C. difficile infections by 30 per cent has today been met and exceeded with numbers down by 36 per cent - two years ahead of schedule.'
However, Derek Butler, chairman of campaign group MRSA Action said the Government was relying on major reductions in infections at a few hospitals to make the overall picture look good.
It masked a postcode lottery with some hospitals making virtually no headway, he said.
During the last quarter one-third of trusts had a rise in MRSA cases, with 18 per cent standing still, so less than half had made real improvements.
'It's worrying because we seem to have reached a plateau where hand hygiene and general cleanliness fail to make any further impact. We need a fundamental change in approach,' he added.
Shadow Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, said 'Patients will be extremely worried that MRSA and C diff infections have started to increase again.
'It is extraordinary that on the day we find out that these deadly infections are on the rise that the new Health Secretary Andy Burnham has boasted that he is "proud" of Labour's record.
'These figures expose Labour's complacency and their failure to tackle this blight on our hospitals.
'Just last week the National Audit Office said that almost a quarter of hospitals still do not have the facilities to isolate patients with an infection to stop it spreading. Instead of taking real action Labour have pursued gimmicks like Gordon Brown's flawed deep-cleaning programme.
'A Conservative Government would take a zero tolerance approach to hospital infections. We are committed to doubling the number of single rooms in NHS hospitals so that all patients who need to be isolated can be.'
Dr Peter Carter, Royal College of Nursing chief executive and general secretary, said: 'The leadership and innovation of nurses has been central to driving down infection rates, and improving the quality of care for all patients.
'However, these figures do show that while the general trend is a reduction in infections, the increase last winter demonstrates that challenges remain.'


Reducing Healthcare Associated Infections
in Hospitals in England
12 June 2009

A new report claims the government is not doing enough to combat deadly hospital bugs, with some infections reportedly soaring
The Government has spent 120m pounds since 2004 to combat super bugs
Despite an overall reduction across the NHS following a 120m pounds crackdown, MRSA and Clostridium Difficile have increased in some areas.
One-in-10 NHS trusts has seen a rise in MRSA cases and Clostridium difficile is up in one-in-five.
The National Audit Office is also concerned bloodstream infections, such as MSSA, which actress Leslie Ash contracted, may be on the rise.
The Department of Health has met its target to reduce MRSA by 57% but not all trusts are complying with government guidelines.
Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said: "With a focused centrally-driven initiative of this kind, the improvements are not uniform across the NHS."

Morse claims the key problems that need to be addressed are "a lack of robust comparable data on other infection risks; increases in antibiotic resistance and poor data on hospital prescribing".
Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, Edward Leigh MP, said the increases are "threatening all those who use our healthcare system".
Around 9,000 people died in 2007, when either MRSA or C Diff was a factor involved in their deaths.
Derek Butler, the Chair of MRSA Action UK, told Sky News Online that the Government need to "up their game" when it comes to superbugs.
"The NHS needs to stop using 19th century practices to combat this problem. They need to think beyond hand cleanliness and start using more modern methods to be more effective at reducing these bugs." Butler said.
"The benefit of reducing superbugs is that anti-biotic stocks with last longer." Derek Butler claims.
"Pharmaceutical companies are not developing them quick enough because it costs too much and the Government needs to step in and help companies in their development."
(c) Sky News 12 June 2009


Sky News 12 June 2009


Dad makes it curtains for killer hospital bug
22 April 2009

A BUSINESSMAN who caught MRSA while in hospital has won a prestigious award for inventing a device which prevents the infection. Father-of-five Peter Gardner, 61, of Jackass Lane, Keston, gained the Queen's Award for his life-saving idea of a disposable cubicle curtain which has helped the superbug rate to plummet in dozens of hospitals.
Mr Gardener caught MRSA while in Guy's and St Thomas' hospital in London for kidney stones treatment in 2004. He set up his business, Disposable Cubicle Curtains, within the same year. He said: "Luckily I survived but others don't. I said to the doctors: 'This is wrong. I shouldn't be here, you're meant to be curing me.' Then I set about fixing it. Guy's and St Thomas' let me start developing it there."
He bought a factory in China in 2006 and now supplies, among others, Queen Mary's Hospital, in Sidcup, and Dartford's Livingstone Hospital. This year his company hit the 100million pounds turnover mark.
Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, which had the worst outbreak of the superbug C-Diff in which 90 people died between 2002 and 2006, was one of the first to start using the curtains. It now claims to have one of the lowest infection rates in the country.
Mr Gardner said: "It's amazing really. Cynics say we're making money out of illness but if it saves lives it has to be a good thing."
The curtains, nearly 10 times cheaper than normal hospital ones, are made of a special material that kills MRSA, as well as being fireproof and waterproof.
Mr Gardner was previously the managing director of two other companies and chairman of trade associations, but views his latest award as the pinnacle of his business career. He said: "This is the best thing I have ever done. I've been working all my life to prove I can develop things and make things work. But nothing is more satisfying than winning this award. I'm absolutely made up as they say. It was something I really really wanted. I was a secondary modern lad who left school with no qualifications. If I can do it, anybody can. It's not about qualification, it's about dedication."
Mr Gardner will be invited to a reception at BuckinghamPalace.


Nurses' uniforms pose superbug risk
Last updated: 21/04/2009 06:00:00

Stricter superbug controls were demanded last night after it emerged that Norfolk's main hospitals were still allowing nurses to wear their uniforms outside work.
Health chiefs spoke of their concern that the county's acute hospitals are putting patients at risk of potentially life-threatening illnesses by not forcing staff to change their clothing after a shift.
The increased demand on beds has also raised fears about a future rise in healthcare-acquired infections - despite a dramatic cut in MRSA and C difficile rates in Norfolk and Waveney over the last year.
The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital yesterday announced a drop of more than 50pc in MRSA and C-diff cases.
But members of Norfolk's health scrutiny panel have raised concerns about the number of hospital staff wearing uniforms outside of work and high bed occupancy rates.
MRSA Action UK called on the government earlier this year to make it compulsory for nurses to change out of their uniforms after finishing work to help stamp out the deadly infections. But the Department of Health has left it to individual NHS trusts to decide their own uniform policy.
Officials from Norfolk's three acute hospitals currently allow nurses to wear uniforms when travelling to and from work, but encourage them to wear a long coat over their work clothes and urge them not to go shopping in their uniforms.
It has also emerged that the James Paget University Hospital at Gorleston and some community hospitals do not even have a place for staff to store uniforms.
Judy Ames, lead infection control nurse at NHS Norfolk, said she shared people's concerns about staff wearing uniforms outside work, including N&N staff wearing them on the bus.
She said: "I do get frustrated when I see nurses in uniform in commercial premises. If you see it, I would say report it."
Jonathan Williams, assistant director of health intelligence at NHS Norfolk, said there was no conclusive evidence to suggest banning staff from wearing a uniform outside of work would limit the spread of infection.
"Ideally we would encourage staff to change into their uniforms at work but appreciate this is not always possible where space for changing, storage and laundry facilities is limited," he said.
Derek Butler, chairman of MRSA Action UK, said the government advice for patients with MRSA was to change their clothing daily but there was conflicting advice for hospital staff.
"We are not satisfied that every effort is being made to ensure patient safety with regard to the lax policy on the wearing of uniforms in the public domain," he said.
But Andrew Stronach, for the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said some of the foundation trust's staff worked in the community and had to wear their uniforms in public.
"Our infection rates are the lowest in the county and nurses wearing uniforms in public are not a huge risk. From a microbiological view, there is not a huge body of evidence to say uniforms are a huge source of transmission. Hand hygiene is the key," he said.
Noel Scanlon, chief nurse and chief executive of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King's Lynn, said: "The public perception is that it is not acceptable to see someone wearing a nurse's uniform outside work. Our policy is strongly to discourage nurses from wearing uniform outside the premises and they should not enter shops and commercial premises with their uniform on."
At the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, there were 15 cases of MRSA and 139 cases of C difficile in 2008-9 - a record low and down from 33 and 326 the year before.
At the QEH, there were 8 cases of MRSA - the same as the year before - and 98 of C diff - down from 227 the year before.
The JPH recorded 10 cases of MRSA and 90-100 of C diff, down from 31 and 154.
A Department of Health spokesman said: "It is the responsibility of each NHS Trust to have its own policy about the wearing of uniforms. Trusts are expected to keep their policies in respect of uniforms and workwear under review.


Dr Foster on ITV'S Tonight Programme "How safe is your hospital?"
April 08, 2009 Healthcare & Hospitals News

(PRLEAP.COM) April 8, 2009 - ITV's Tonight Programme has revealed that Dr Foster was first to warn about failings at the Mid-Staffordshire Hospital Trust where more patients than would be expected had died unnecessarily.

How Safe Is Your Hospital?, which aired March 30 2009 at 8pm, also revealed that the Dr Foster Unit at Imperial College had flagged a warning with the Healthcare Commission in July 2007 and again a month later.
The Dr Foster analysis had identified that the Mid-Staffordshire Hospital Trust had the fourth highest Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratio (HSMR) in England for the three-year period 2003 to 2006.
The Healthcare Commission eventually launched a full investigation and a report into failings at the Trust.
Access the Healthcare Commission report here
The Tonight Programme criticised the Healthcare Commission for not acting sooner despite warnings.
Other media coverage has also highlighted how the early warnings provided by the Dr Foster Unit and Dr Foster's 2007 Hospital Guide were not acted upon quickly enough by the Healthcare Commission.
The Dr Foster Unit develops pioneering methodologies that enable fast and accurate identification of potential problems in clinical performance, as well as areas of high achievement.
The Dr Foster Unit was established in 2000 within the Division of Epidemiology, Public Health and Primary Care, part of the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College in London.
Dr Foster also produces consumer guides to health services, the first of which was published in 2001 - The Hospital Guide.
The publication of the Hospital Guide marked the first ever instance that comparative adjusted death rates for all NHS hospital trusts had ever been made public in the UK.
Dr Foster information tools are used by over 70 per cent of the NHS and comparative information for the public is now also published on Dr Foster's consumer-facing website:
Tim Kelsey, Chair of the Executive Board of Dr Foster Intelligence, stated, "The NHS is now one of the most closely monitored health economies in the world and the alert that triggered the Mid Staffordshire investigation is evidence that this new system is working and that the NHS is beginning to use information and data effectively."
Roger Taylor, Research Director of Dr Foster Intelligence, added: "While mortality rates should never be looked at in isolation, they can provide powerful evidence of where care may be failing. Dr Foster believes this information should be in the public domain and taken seriously by hospitals. In the case of Mid-Staffs, Dr Foster's published analyses in the Hospital Guide 2007 had raised cause for concern for some years prior to the investigation by the Healthcare Commission."
Derek Butler, the chairman of MRSA Action UK, said: "The [Dr Foster] data which is freely available and in the public domain should be used as a management tool, not only by the Hospital Trust Boards and managers, but also by the regulators."
You can access Dr Foster's Hospital Guide to find out how your local hospital performs against other hospitals in England.
Find out more about Dr Foster's Real-Time Monitor tool on the Dr Foster corporate site.
Editors' Notes
1. HSMRs: Dr Foster publishes HSMRs as one of a basket of quality indicators in its annual Hospital Guide and over Dr Foster has always advised that HSMRs should not be used in isolation in evaluating the quality of a hospital.
2. About Dr Foster: Dr Foster is the UK's market-leading provider of information, analysis and targeted communications to health and social care organisations. An independent organisation, Dr Foster Intelligence was launched in 2006 as a joint venture between Dr Foster Ltd and the NHS Information Centre for health and social care. Dr Foster Intelligence aims to set a new standard in information for health and social care providers and their users and is legally required to follow a code of conduct that prohibits political bias and requires it to act in the public interest. The Dr Foster Ethics Committee is an independent body empowered to adjudicate on complaints and oversee the code of conduct.
3. About Dr Foster Health: Dr Foster Health is the leading innovator in benchmarking public services and communicating information about services to the public. We produce authoritative and independent guides to health services in the public and private sectors. Our aim is not only to inform, but also to act as a catalyst for change.
Contact Information
Alex Young
Dr Foster Health
0044 207 8906


Hospitals failing infection standards
Fri 3rd Apr 2009

Twenty-one trusts have failed to meet the infection control standards, the new healthcare 'super-regulator' has said.

The Care Quality Commission found that ten acute hospital trusts, six primary care trusts, four mental healthcare trusts and one ambulance trust failed to meet government-set hygiene targets.
All trusts were told that they had to meet the government standards for cleanliness to register with the CQC.
They have now been given a deadline by which to improve their standards of hygiene. Those that fail to do so will face "tough" sanctions from the new regulator.
Cynthia Bower, chief executive of the CQC, told the BBC that, overall, the figures represent a "statement of success" for the NHS.
She said that 388 trusts "demonstrated that they have met this standard which is about protecting patients from the risk of infection".
And Bower explained that the new regulations were designed to "put pressure" on trusts.
"It is asking them to demonstrate that they are doing everything that they can," she said.
"Where we think trusts can be doing more, we have given them a deadline to complete additional action.
"If they don't comply, we can take legal action against them."
She added: "In the most extreme cases, we could take their registration away."

But Derek Butler, chairman of MRSA Action UK, said he was "not entirely" satisfied with the CQC's analysis.
He told the BBC: "I am very happy that all the regulators have now come under one roof.

"But I will consider whether it is a 'super-regulator' in 12 months time when I see what they do with the hospital trusts that have clearly breached this hygiene code for the last two years.
"Let me just clarify that. [The target] is not something that has just come into power. It has been in power since 2006. And they are still breaching it.

"Some hospitals infection rates have actually risen in the last three months. And they are not tackling these infections."

But a Department of Health spokesman said the small number of trusts that had conditions placed on their registration have already started working on improvement plans with the CQC.

"We expect those trusts to rapidly improve the safety of the services provided and deliver a high quality of care as expected by all patients," he said.







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