Thursday, 14th March 2013

MRSA rates halved in 19 hospitals, with infection eliminated in a further 5 hospitals

Figures recorded by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), under the auspices of the HSE, show that the number of MRSA acquired infections in our hospitals have been reduced from 305 cases in 2010 to 242 cases last year. This represents a dramatic reduction of 20% in the lifetime of the Government so far.

The figures are collected from microbiology laboratories in hospitals across the State. They show that MRSA rates have been at least halved in 19 of our hospitals and that the infection has been eliminated in a further five hospitals since the Government took office. There are now 20 hospitals that have not recorded any cases of MRSA infection in 2012.

Much work is being done to eradicate MRSA and all hospital acquired infections and we are seeing real progress in this area. The number of reported MRSA bloodstream infections has decreased steadily over the last six years from 592 in 2007 to 242 in 2012, which represents a reduction of 59%.

A changing culture towards the issue of hygiene has contributed to this improvement. Health professionals have become increasingly aware of the importance that hand hygiene plays in controlling and preventing the spread of infections. Recent figures from period 4 of 2012 show a hand hygiene compliance rate of 84.3% in hospitals; up from 81.6% in period 3. The measured groups include nurses and midwives who record a 88.7% compliance rate, doctors who show a 70.7% compliance rate, auxiliary staff 84.1% and other healthcare staff 85.5%.

Patients have a right to feel safe in our hospitals. It is not acceptable that they should acquire serious infections while receiving hospital care. Hygiene improvements in our hospitals must continue. The target for compliance set for this year is 90%. I would call on health professionals and doctors in particular to give this matter the attention it deserves to enable us to get to grips with MRSA, allowing our patients to be treated in a safe and secure hospital environment.