Stop blaming NHS for MRSA8th December 2006
Amid the clamour for the NHS to ‘do something about MRSA’ Telegraph columnist and junior doctor Max Pemberton argues for the public to take its share of the blame.
In the public mind the bug has been indelibly linked to hospitals and hygiene, but the reality is MRSA lives on around a third of the general population. The problem comes when it gets into a wound, causing infections that can be difficult to treat.
Now as lawyers hunt for legal ways to sue the NHS and patient groups redouble their call on the NHS to ‘take responsibility’, he asks, ‘is the NHS responsible?’
‘Politicians would have us believe that it is simply a matter of cleaner hospitals, but it is not that simple,’ he writes. ‘It takes only three hours for a new colony of MRSA to establish itself on a ward, so guaranteed eradication would require near-constant cleaning of every surface. The chain of responsibility is complex and the sad fact is that we're all implicated.’
This includes those patients who demand antibiotics for viruses –giving bacteria like MRSA a chance to build up resistance, and demand for cheap, factory-farmed meat where antibiotics are used to keep out infections in livestock.
Nurses and doctors have responded to the hand washing campaigns and cut cross-contamination, but estimates suggest less than a third of visitors wash their hands. Simply doubling that number would break the chain of infection, he writes.
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