Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals (DBTH) celebrated 365 days without a Meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus blood stream infection (also known as MRSA) on October 29.
A particularly tricky bacterium, MRSA is resistant to several widely used antibiotics, making it much harder to treat than ‘normal’ bacterial infections.
About one in three people carry MRSA on the surface of their skin or in their nose without developing an infection. However, if MRSA bacteria gets into the body through a break in the skin it can cause infections such as boils, abscesses or impetigo and if it gets into the bloodstream it can cause more serious ailments.
The Trust’s Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Team have worked tirelessly throughout the last year with clinicians to ensure that the bug is kept in check. This includes screening all patients for the bacteria, isolating those with a positive result and immediately beginning what is known as a ‘decolonisation’ process in order to stop it spreading any further and causing harm.
Carol Scholey, Lead Nurse for IPC at the Trust, said: “Ensuring we keep MRSA out of our hospitals has been a number one priority for the team and I am incredibly proud of this achievement. Tackling infection is a daily challenge in any hospital and reaching this particular milestone is a testament to the dedication and enthusiasm with which our staff approach patient care and treatment.”
Among other initiatives, the IPC team has led hand-washing campaigns within the Trust, ensuring all wards and services are compliant with hygiene and infection-control policies, as well as reviewing the use of any devices and treatment tools which can lead to an increased chance of developing MRSA. Above all else, the team have encouraged members of staff to be vigilant, looking out for symptoms of the bug and acting upon any potential signs that could lead to further infection.
Dr Ken Agwuh, Director of Infection Prevention and Control at DBTH, said: “Ensuring our patients are safe while they are in our care is a top priority, and improving our infection control measures, in every regard, is a crucial step in this process. Our Infection Prevention and Control team have been very proactive and, alongside colleagues at the Trust, have shown a real commitment to ensuring our patients receive the highest quality of care, within a safe environment.
“Going an entire year without MRSA is a very positive achievement, however it is important that we do not become complacent and continue on this improvement journey to keep our hospitals free of bugs, bacteria and preventable infection.”
In all, 2018 has been a particularly successful year for IPC at the Trust. In September, the team reported a reduction in overall infection across the organisation’s three hospital sites in Bassetlaw, Doncaster and Mexborough, with health care associated infection rates at a low of 5%, far outstripping the national average of 6.6%.
This drive towards safer and preventative care has also been seen with DBTH’s recent flu vaccination campaign. With over 3,800 members of staff given the jab in just 21 days, the Trust is believed to be among the fastest performing NHS providers in the entire country.