Testing all patients for the drug-resistant pathogen MRSA as they are admitted to hospital could cut mortality and save the NHS millions of pounds, according to a UK Government health watchdog body.
NHS Quality Improvement Scotland is now urging the Scottish Government to launch a pilot programme in one health board area to see if the theory works.
The watchdog claims the cost of screening all patients for MRSA on admission will be £14.3m in the first year and fall to less than £10m in the fifth year.
But costs from hospital-acquired infections are estimated to be £183m a year, resulting in a saving of £55m if a third of these could be prevented.
Watchdog chairman Sir Graham Teasdale said pinpointing people carrying MRSA would stop the infection spreading in hospitals.
“Screening offers the chance to test patients when they are preassessed for elective surgery or when first admitted,” he said.
“Within 24 hours, we will know whether MRSA is present on their skin and take action to avoid infection and prevent the bacterium spreading to other patients.”
He added: “Implementing a screening programme without causing major disruption to the normal working of a hospital will be a challenge.
“We are therefore proposing that a pilot programme is created to establish whether the benefits of screening can be realised in the NHS.”
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“Some managers are very shortsighted. They could only see the cost towards the extra MRSA screening but are unable to foresee the benefits of the screening, ie reduction in hospital-acquired infections.” – CC, Manchester