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Swine flu may increase MRSA cases


An increasing number of swine flu patients being treated in hospitals may lead to a rise in cases of MRSA, according to experts, as higher bed occupancy can equal higher infection rates.

The MRSA Working Group, together with National Concern for Healthcare Infection and the Patients Association have recommended that hospitals discharge patients as early as possible to prevent the spread of infection.

The group has written to all NHS hospitals asking them to review their early discharge policies for patients of the superbug, and to remind them not to let standards slip if pressure on staff increases.

Research from the Department of Health has shown that when a hospital’s bed occupancy rate exceeds 90%, MRSA rates can rise to as much as 40% above average.

Dr Matthew Dryden, consultant microbiologist at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital and General Secretary of the British Society of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, said: “What we don’t want to see is an increase in infections such as MRSA, which have been linked to high bed occupancy rates.

“A way to get around this is to support patients with infections to get out of hospital earlier with outpatient and home care and good antibiotic stewardship.”

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “Over the past few years, trusts with high bed occupancy have reduced their MRSA levels to a similar extent to the low occupancy trusts.

“The NHS is well-prepared to deal with a second wave of swine flu, and has robust plans in place to deal with an increase in the number of swine flu patients alongside winter pressures.”

Copyright Press Association 2009
Department of Health

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