Superbug MRSA deaths up 1400% in a decade
In 1993 51 people died from MRSA. Two years ago the figure stood at 800.
If we look at MRSA cases in total (not just deaths) they have risen 2300% from 210 in 1993 to 5,309 in 2002.
According to experts two things are happening here. There are more cases of MRSA, but we are also getting better at spotting it.
The costs to the NHS (UK) of hospital-acquired infections is estimated to be around ?1 billion a year. This figure includes all hospital acquired infections, of which MRSA is one.
The UK government is starting to do something about it. In December it announced a crackdown on hospital hygiene.
Each hospital must have a Director of Infection. This person?s job is to explain to people the importance of handwashing and general hygiene in hospitals. MRSA?s main route of transmission is through unwashed hands.
These figures come from a study carried out by the UK Office of National Statistics and Health Protection Agency.
They examines tens of thousand of death certificates from the 1993-2002 period. They looked out for any mention of Staphylococcus aureus. Then they selected those that mentioned MRSA as the direct or contributing cause of death. MRSA is the drug-resistant from of the infection.
Dr Georgia Duckworth, an expert at the Health Protection Agency on this said 'It is difficult to establish whether MRSA is the underlying cause of a patient's death or just a contributory factor because the majority of infections are in people who are already very sick, and we don't know if they would have died as a result of their underlying illness whether or not they had MRSA. This research however does show that MRSA is making an increasing contribution to illness and mortality.'
Dr. Duckworth also said 'By following good infection control procedures, the spread of MRSA and other infections in hospital can be limited and controlled. However, although many of these infections can be prevented, they cannot be totally eradicated as they are the price we pay for advances in medical treatments, which often allow patients who are severely sick and vulnerable to infection, to survive.'
Many opposition MPs (Members of Parliament) are saying that these high figures could be partly due to chronic staff shortages in the UK National Health Service.
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