Thursday, March 23, 2006

UK Study: MRSA Higher in Crowded Hospital Wards

According to a study in the British Journal of Nursing, patients face a greater risk of contracting MRSA if they are treated in a ward with a high occupancy rate. The study by researchers at the University of Ulster found that more than half of the Northern Irish surgical wards exceed UK overcrowding guidelines.

The UK government recommends that bed occupancy rate of 82%. All 11 Northern Ireland wards tracked in the study had occupancy rates above 85%. Over utilization of the beds equals greater MRSA risk, according to the researchers:

“Their study suggests a relationship between percentage bed occupancy and MRSA rates: the higher the level of occupancy the higher the risk of MRSA infection and they are now investigating these factors in all the English acute and specialist hospital Trusts.
Individual acts, it is argued, such as hand washing, good hygiene, and the use of alcohol gels are important; but there may be structural and systems issues which may contribute to hospital acquired infections. Nurses, managers and Trust boards, they say, must address these macro as well as micro issues in the control of hospital infection.”

Hospitals are finally seeing the mounting evidence that infection issues are environmental and systemic. The chain of transmission has several links. We need to address all of them, including indoor air contamination to find a lasting solution.

(There is no link available to the original study text as the British Journal of Nursing as it does not publish on-line yet)

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