Daily Archives: October 19, 2007

Forget the Flowers, bring the bleach

The writer of this piece in the Telegraph has some very timely advice regarding what can be done to bring the rise in infections in hospitals under control. It seems that a good starting place is the use of bleach. She is a doctor who has experience in infection control. Dr. Jane makes some very interesting observations regarding the cleanliness of the wards in hospitals and why this issue has not been brought under control. It seems that the NHS are not using ward staff for the cleaning jobs, but they are paying contractors who have no real knowledge regarding the issue of bugs and cleanliness.
She points out that the microbiology departments of the hospitals are under-utilized even though there is a growing problem with the superbugs. The spores that cause the infection are killed by household bleach, or at least the hospital grade bleach. Why are the cleaners not using these products? She points out that she had a stay at the University Hospital and she was appalled over the cleaning standards, and how visitors are allowed onto the wards when the floors are still wet, allowing more bugs to remain in the ward.
It sounds like this problem can be controlled, but there has to be a return to the old standards of cleanliness. If the UK continues with the underfunding of its hospital system then the situation will only get worse. Perhaps this is a sign that socialized medicine is in melt-down.

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High School Student in Virginia dies as a result of MRSA – unclean schools a risk to students

A 17 year old student from Virgina has died as a result of the superbug MRSA, which is normally associated with deaths in hospitals (especially in the U.K.). The students at Staunton River High School in Moneta Virginia, decided that they would not return to class until the school had been cleaned up. They got the message out to other students and used popular social programs such as Facebook to get their message out to other schools, that something had to be done about the cleanliness of their schools.

One of the students accompanied a school superintendent on a tour of the school, where she pointed out the lack of hygiene in the bathrooms and the hallways. The officials closed all schools in the county for a week in order to clean up the schools.

What is of grave concern, though, is that the death of this 17 year old from Virginia is not an isolated incident. School officials in Conneticut have confirmed that one student at Weston High and another at Newtown High have been diagnosed with MRSA. In Rockville, Maryland, at least 13 students have been diagnosed with MRSA. Cases have been reported in Ohio, Michigan and other states, including elementary school children.

A study published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical
Association estimates that MRSA infections occurred in nearly 95,000
Americans in 2005. Based on those figures, an estimated 18,650 people
died due to their MRSA infection in 2005. That death rate is higher
than the HIV/AIDS death rate for that year, and the number of MRSA
related deaths is much higher than previously thought.

Pat
Mshar, an epidemiologist for Connecticut’s Department of Health —
which contributed data to the JAMA study — said the consolidation of
statistics was groundbreaking. “This is the first time that
we’ve been able to measure this in a population basis in which we’ve
been able to quantify the impact,” she said. According to the Centers for Disease Control, some 25 to 30 percent of the population carry staphylococcus bacteria
— one of the most common causes of infection — in their bodies. While
such infections are usually minor, invasive MRSA infections can become
fatal because they are caused by drug-resistant staph. Dr. Julie
Gerberding, the director of the CDC, says these infections are not new.
“It’s important to appreciate that many of these infections are the
same infections moms have been dealing with for decades. They’re very
preventable,” she says. “If you see a skin infection that
looks like the redness is getting bigger or if it’s associated with a
lot of swelling around the wound or if the individual has a fever,
those are reasons to definitely seek doctor’s attention. But most of
the time these are things that can be treated with the same kind of
common sense approach that is we’ve been using for years.” Mshar emphasized that the highest rate of MRSA deaths — 58 percent — is found in hospitals.

It seems that it is not only the U.K. that needs to get its act together to ensure that these infections are kept under control. The death toll from these superbugs is much too high, and a lot more needs to be done about the cleanliness of the school toilets and hallways, as well as the general level of cleanliness inside the hospitals.

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