Hospital acquired MRSA infections in the UK have apparently fallen by a third in the last year according to the Health Protection Agenc y. Gordon Brown is writing to all NHS staff to say well done.
I foresee problems. There have been a couple of political drives on MRSA recently which have been non-evidence based; the ‘deep clean’ of all hospitals and a ban on long sleeves for staff (even though the Department of Health itself said this was non evidence based.) In fact, the nonsense spoken by the DoH demonstrates the absurdity of how MRSA is being dealt with. On one hand the Uniforms and Workwear policy they have produced keeps saying how important it is to look professional (no untied long hair, not ‘too many’ badges) because this could ‘send the wrong messages’ to patients about ‘professional pride’. At the same time, while acknowledging there is no evidence for it, the policy bans neck ties. I know of hospitals expending considerable energy into banning cufflinks while doing precious little about their commodes being shared. There is no evidence that any of the government’s ideas have had anything to do with a decreased rate of MRSA infections. The danger is that the government believes its own hype and that its policies have made the difference.
I wrote about microbiological concern about MRSA transmission last year here. The things that do seem to make a difference to MRSA infections are antibiotic prescribing, the cleaning of all surfaces, especially the less obvious ones, and decreased bed occupancy rates. Banning neck ties is not only non evidence based but it is not the surface most able to come into contact with most patients either. What about blood pressure cuffs, stethoscopes, curtains around beds, and visitors?