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    Sunday, April 10, 2005

    Dirty Hospitals or Natural Selection? London's most esteemed children's hospital has a antibiotic resistant germ problem:

    FOUR children aged three or under have died after suffering MRSA infections at Britain’s most famous children’s hospital, figures released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal.

    They were among 20 infants whose bloodstream contained MRSA, the most dangerous form of the superbug infection, at Great Ormond Street hospital, London, in the past five years. While 16 of these toddlers recovered, four died and the infection definitely contributed to the death of at least one of them.

    Antibiotic resistant bacteria are on the rise everywhere, not just at hospitals. They're present in the community, too. Their presence is not so much a reflection of hygiene as it is of overuse of antibiotics. The natural home of staph is the skin. It's a common source of contamination whenever the skin is breached, such as placement of an intravenous catheter, or surgery, or a cut or scrape. It can also be introduced by the touch of another. It's hard to say which is the source of woe for the British hospitals. Probably a combination of things. But, since their healthcare system is run by the government, it's become a politicized issue:

    As MRSA — methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus — has become an election issue, hospitals have come under increasing pressure to keep details of infections and deaths secret. Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust last week claimed it could not reveal how many babies had been infected or died from MRSA at its hospitals due to government guidance about the disclosure of sensitive information in the build-up to the election.

    The Department of Health is also understood to have complained to the Patients Association that the publication of its survey in February showing high rates of MRSA infections in newborn babies overshadowed the government’s NHS Think Clean Day.

    The Conservatives have made the fight against hospital-acquired infection a central election pledge. Last week they promised £52m to fight MRSA in hospitals.

    And don't forget the celebrity input:

    This week the actress Leslie Ash, who almost died after becoming infected with a hospital superbug similar to MRSA, will speak about her ordeal at a Patients Association conference about the dangers of dirty hospitals.

    MRSA is a problem here in the States, too, but since the hospitals aren't run by the government, it isn't an election issue. The hospitals just take measure to try to prevent it as best they can - like requiring gloves for all patient contact and limiting the use of antibiotics that can contribute to the development of resistance. Using politics to control it seems an especially inefficient system.


    posted by Sydney on 4/10/2005 04:23:00 PM 0 comments


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