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The National Institute for Health & Care Excellence issued new guidelines yesterday in an attempt to reduce the incidences of healthcare acquired infections – saying it’s unacceptable that one in 16 people pick up a bug in the nation’s hospitals, that 5,000 patients die each year as a result of a superbug and that infections such as MRSA and C. difficile contribute to another 15,000 deaths annually.
Although data shows that England has one of the lowest rates of infection in Europe per in-patient treated, and Department of Health figures show that MRSA and C. difficile rates are the lowest ever since mandatory surveillance began, the fact that some 800 patients a day pick up an infection from the staff themselves or from dirty equipment, is unacceptable, isn’t it?
Checking into in my local health centre last week, I used a touch screen computer to let the receptionist know I’d arrived. Then sitting down in the waiting room, I thought about all the ‘nasties’ on the magazines set out for people to read, and on the children’s books and toys provided to keep the little ones amused as they wait, as well as on the arms of the chairs and the handles of the doors to the consulting rooms. I didn’t notice any hand gel available for our use and nor did I see any signs warning us about the dangers of cross-contamination. I did, however, see lots of slightly dark greasy patches around the walls where people rest their heads while waiting to see their GP’s, which didn’t make me feel very comfortable!
Sadly, with so little money available for regular, thorough cleaning of every surface in the healthcare environment, and healthcare professionals so overloaded with work that sometimes some of them neglect to wash their hands between treating different patients, I can’t help feeling that we’re going to end up fighting a losing battle when it comes to really making an impact on healthcare acquired infections…
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17th April 2014