At the end of August 2011, the fantastic news was revealed that the number of MRSA Super Bug fatalities in the United Kingdom was at an all-time low. Alongside this, it was reported that the number of people dying with CDF, had also dramatically fallen since the last count.
MRSA, otherwise known as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is one of the most well-known, and most feared, infections transmitted within hospitals. The MRSA bacteria creates a number of different infections if it enters your system, and is therefore particularly dangerous to vulnerable people already at risk in hospitals. People with open wounds and already weakened immune systems, can be exposed to the MRSA through contact with contaminated surfaces or hands. MRSA can be extremely challenging to treat, as it is unaffected by a number of the most common antibiotics; making it an even greater threat to patients.
CDF, or Clostridium difficile bacteria, is also extremely dangerous to those who are already unwell. It causes a number of problems in the patient’s intestine, including severe diarrhoea which is dangerous to those who are already ill, as it can drastically dehydrate them.
In the constant battle against hospital-transmitted infections, hygiene and cleaning standards need to be impeccable. The bacteria can spread through a hospital extremely quickly, by person to person contact, and touching surfaces. It is therefore a testament to the changes that have been made within the hospitals, that the infections have decreased so dramatically.
The Office for National Statistics made the discovery that the number of deaths caused by MRSA in England and Wales has dropped, by looking at how many death certificates mentioned MRSA. Their research concluded that in 2010, the number of deaths caused by the Super Bug was four times fewer than in 2006. In 2006, the number of deaths caused by MRSA was at its highest, with 1,652 individuals dying from it; in 2010 this number had fallen to 485. In addition to this, the number of people dying from CDF infection has also fallen- there were 2,704 in 2010, a much higher number than the 8,324 recorded in 2007.
Hospitals have tackled the problem by preventing the patients being infected, and from any existing infections spreading. The hospital staff, who encounter several patients a day, are extremely diligent with their hygiene, to prevent bacteria spreading from one patient to another. There are particular hand washing techniques in place, which must be undertaken before and after they treat a patient. This hand washing procedure must be followed after other activities, such as preparing food or using equipment, ensuring that at all times any bacteria is removed from their hands. They use hot water and soap where available, or an alcohol gel or rub.
If hospital staff are tending to patients who have open wounds or handling needles, they wear gloves at all times.
If MRSA is found in the hospital, patients who have the infection are isolated to prevent them from infecting others. All patients are only transferred around the hospital if absolutely necessary
Consistent and correct hand washing is also extremely important for the patients themselves to undertake, as well as using their own soap and wipes, and keeping their bed areas clean and tidy. Their visitors must also follow similar stringent hand washing routines- there are regular dispensers which contain alcoholic gel to kill bacteria on their hands. They have also been stopped from sitting on patients’ beds.
The cleanliness of the hospital itself, has also contributed to the decrease of the MRSA and CDF virus. Every surface that can come in to contact with human touch, including beds, floors and toilets, is constantly cleaned, to particular and exacting standards. These areas need to be washed, disinfected, and dried to ensure that these infections and bacteria are killed.
If these cleaning and hygiene measures continue to be followed and improved, MRSA and CDF infections will continue to fall.