MRSA and C.diff cases hit record low

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Clostridium difficile among the over 65s in Scotland and cases of MRSA are at their lowest since recording began, according to the latest statistics.

The figures, published today by Health Protection Scotland, show that strenuous efforts to crack down on hospital infections are reaping rewards for patients.

From July to September 2010 there were:

* 73 MRSA cases – down 7.6 per cent (from 79) on the previous quarter and down 27.7 per cent (from 101) when compared with the same quarter last year
* 575 C.diff cases in over 65s – down 28.6 per cent (from 805) when compared year-on-year and down 0.5 per cent (from 578) on the previous quarter
* 204 C.diff cases in 15-64 year olds – down 38 per cent (from 327) when compared with the previous year but up 24 per cent (from 165) when compared with the previous quarter. However, HPS advise that these figures have to be treated with caution.

The figures also show a reduction of 42 per cent in C.diff rates for the year October 2009 – September 2010, when compared with the previous year.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said:

“I’ve made tackling hospital infections a top priority and these figures are further confirmation that the initiatives we have put in place – coupled with the efforts of health boards and hospital staff and the scrutiny of the Healthcare Environment Inspectorate – are making a difference.

“It’s vital that patients have confidence in the quality of care and treatment they will receive if they need to go into hospital and this confidence should not be undermined by the fear of contracting an infection.

“These figures highlight just how effective our efforts to drive down infection rates have been with the number of C.diff cases falling from 1,775 in the first quarter of 2007 to 575 in the latest quarter.

“But there is always more that can be done and I expect health boards to remain vigilant, continue striving to drive down infection rates further still and ensure that implementing infection control procedures remains a top priority.”

Among the initiatives which have been introduced to tackle healthcare associated infections are:

* independent, unannounced inspections from the Healthcare Environment Inspectorate
* public reporting of hospital by hospital performance on key indicators such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile, hand hygiene and cleaning with a single website to give access to national and local information
* tripling funding to tackle Healthcare Associated Infections – to over £50 million over three years – to support a new and more comprehensive HAI Delivery Plan
* providing hundreds of additional cleaning staff across NHS Scotland funded by an extra £5 million from 2009/10
* introducing a new staff uniform and dress code
* zero tolerance approach to non compliance with hand hygiene policies across the NHS.