Hospitals see rise in cases of superbug
THE number of hospital patients infected with MRSA, the most feared superbug, rose during the some of the worst months for overcrowding, new figures reveal.
There were 60 reported cases of the bloodstream infection in the first three months of 2014, signalling an upward trend after a fall in the first quarter of last year.
Hospitals with the highest numbers include Beaumont, St James's and the Mater in Dublin. Galway hospitals, Cork University Hospital and Waterford Regional also recorded cases.
Large hospitals, which treat the sickest patients, reported the highest numbers of cases. Many bloodstream infections are acquired in the community but only diagnosed on admission to hospital.
And in some cases, a patient may have acquired a bloodstream infection in one hospital but it may only be diagnosed on transfer to another.
Invasive MRSA infections can lead to conditions such as blood poisoning, urinary tract infection and pneumonia.
Although the official figures are only a portion of the MRSA infections in hospital, they provide a reliable measure of how widespread it is.
The figures for 2013 show there were 222 reports of potentially lethal MRSA bloodstream infection in the year, down from 242 the previous year and dramatically lower than its peak in 2006.
The report from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre said the fact that a patient is diagnosed with a bloodstream infection at a given hospital does not mean it was picked up there.
"Many bloodstream infections are acquired in the community but only diagnosed on admission to hospital," it said. Hospitals which do more testing are also likely to diagnose it.
Patients in hospital should regularly wash their hands. They should keep fingernails short and clean because bacteria can grow under larger nails.