MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

MRSA-infected medics allowed to keep working

Hospital trusts are allowing doctors and nurses to continue treating patients even after testing positive for potentially lethal superbugs including MRSA.

Hundreds of trusts do not take their staff off wards automatically if they are found to be carrying one of the most virulent hospital bugs, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which can be spread by human contact.

A survey of trusts carried out by The Independent on Sunday revealed that few routinely screen staff for the infection, or even keep records of the number of employees infected with MRSA. They claimed such a policy was fully in line with government guidelines. The approach is backed by many unions – including one that warned that a hardline policy could damage its members' financial well-being and career prospects.

But the British approach to medical professionals with MRSA contrasts sharply with that in the Netherlands, where hospital staff are regularly screened and sent home if they test positive. The Dutch have one of the lowest MRSA rates in Europe.

Medical experts and patients' pressure groups last night condemned the "relaxed" attitude to the risks posed by doctors and nurses arriving for work on NHS wards every day.

Derek Butler, the chairman of MRSA Action UK, said the Government had to impose tighter rules on staff if it was to "get serious" about tackling an infection that contributes to more than 1,600 deaths every year.


The growing threat

17

strains of MRSA detected by experts, all showing varying degrees of drug resistance

51

Death certificates mentioned MRSA in 1993

1,652

Death certificates mentioned MRSA in 2006

96,000

hospital patients carrying the infection in 2004, as estimated in research carried out for the Conservative Party

20-40%

of the population carry MRSA, mostly in the nose or on the skin – a total of up to 24 million people

£57.5m

in funding ploughed into a "deep clean" of hospitals, announced by Gordon Brown. The exercise was condemned because many health trusts missed the deadline set for it, and because it didn't tackle the issue of people bringing the bug into hospitals in the first place


MRSA-infected medics allowed to keep working - Health News, Health & Wellbeing - The Independent

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