Hospital struggling to address superbug

IPSWICH Hospital is failing to get to grips with MRSA, new figures reveal today.

IPSWICH Hospital is failing to get to grips with MRSA, new figures reveal today.

Rates of the superbug began to fall at the end of last year but have peaked in the last few months following an outbreak in the hospital's wards for the elderly.

Between April and June there were 17 cases of the most serious kind of the bug, bloodstream MRSA infections, reported.

A report to the hospital's board states: “The figures demonstrate that any reduction in the trust's MRSA bacteraemia (blood-stream) rates has not been sustained and that we have a long way to go to achieve control.”

Of the eight cases reported in May, four were in the hospital's care of the elderly wards.

The same ward also suffered an outbreak of the Clostridium Difficile bug which causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea.

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Gwen Collins, director of nursing, said: “We have investigated the incidents fully and can find no particular reason why there were outbreaks of MRSA or C. Diff, apart from the fact that all of the patients were very old and very ill.”

She added that all of the patients who contracted MRSA had invasive devices like catheters or intravenous lines.

MRSA bacteria grow harmlessly on many people but when it enters the bloodstream people can become very ill.

Ian Scott, the hospital's medical director, said: “We have to accept MRSA is now endemic in society and therefore our duty is to ensure that we do not infect those patients that are vulnerable.”

Government targets state that the hospital must reduce their MRSA rates by 60 per cent between April 2005 and March 2008, but the latest figures show that the hospital is, so far, failing to do this.

Andrew Reed, the hospital's chief executive, said: “This is an extremely important issue for the trust.

“Last year there were something like 43 cases and we had more than 60,000 people through the hospital, so it is a tiny percentage of patients.

“However it might be a small number but it has a big impact in terms of confidence levels and we have to address it very seriously.”

The problem of MRSA at Ipswich Hospital was highlighted by the death of two-day-old baby Luke Day in February last year.

Tests later proved that he had contracted the superbug but it may not have been the cause of his death.


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