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Hospital Infection Affecting Patients in Scotland

A new survey suggests that one in ten patients pick up secondary infection like MRSA at the hospitals in Scotland while being treated. The study found 9.5 per cent of people in acute hospitals had a healthcare associated infection (HAI) and it cost the health service 183m a year.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said it was the most comprehensive study ever undertaken into the extent of infections in Scotland's hospitals. Investigators from Health Protection Scotland (HPS) visited every adult acute hospital, and some smaller ones, in Scotland. They recorded how many patients were being treated on the day and how many had developed infections while there. It recorded the presence of all types of infections on the day of the survey. It found that prevalence of HAI was 9.5% in acute hospitals and 7.3% in community hospitals.

Healthcare associated infections (HAIs) can range from minor skin and eye problems to super bugs such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile. It causes severe diarrhoea and illness and in the most serious cases can lead to death.

Nicola Sturgeon has promised tougher action to end the scandal of patients falling ill in the place they go to recover. She said infections are most prevalent in elderly, medical and surgical wards.

Experts and campaigners last night said that HAIs continued to be a problem because of poor hygiene in hospitals and a lack of isolation facilities. Professor Hugh Pennington, Scotland's leading microbiologist, said more attention was also needed to ensure that only patients who needed antibiotics were receiving them to help tackle drug resistance.

Nicola Sturgeon has pledged to step up efforts to combat HAI. She plans to introduce an MRSA screening programme for those going into hospital. It would also target skin and soft tissue infections, reducing blood stream infections and would try and use additional data to tackle infection rates in medical and elderly wards.


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