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'Overused' beds an MRSA threat

6th March 2007

Patients are being put at risk of catching MRSA because hospitals are overusing their beds, according to research.

MRSA1

Studies show that those hospitals where fewer beds are left empty have a higher risk. Longer gaps between patients allow cleaners time to disinfect more thoroughly. Consequently, experts advise a bed occupancy rate of no higher than 85% at any one time.

The government’s own figures show that those exceeding that rate had 16% higher MRSA rates. Those trusts with rates higher than 90% had almost double the average rate.

But figures from 2005/6, compiled by the Liberal Democrats, reveal hospital trusts exceeded the recommended level due to the pressure to cut costs and reach government waiting time targets. More than one in five trusts had occupancy rates of more than 90%, while more than half were higher than 85%.

Figures from the previous year showed deaths linked to MRSA rose by 39%.

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