Infections at Royal Surrey
Infections that occur in a hospital or healthcare environment are called healthcare associated infections (HCAI). The most well-known HCAI is Meticillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Staphylococcus aureus (SA) is a type of bacteria that can cause infection when it gets in a patient’s wound, lungs or bloodstream, but it is normally sensitive to an antibiotic called meticillin and related antibiotics such as flucloxacillin. MRSA is a particular type of SA which is resistant to this group of antibiotics.
Another well-known HCAI is caused by Clostridium difficile or C. difficile for short. This causes an infection of the bowel, which then causes patients to have diarrhoea. It’s something that is more likely to affect elderly patients who have been taking antibiotics.
For further information please refer to the Patient Information Leaflets A to Z (look under I for Infection control)
Who gets these infections?
At any one time, approximately 7% of all patients in hospitals across the country have a HCAI.
What causes infection?
Infection can happen when bacteria enter part of the body :
- through a wound or cut (including a cut made during an operation);
- through a medical device that is inserted into the body – such as a drip into a vein or a catheter into the bladder;
- when we breathe (in the same way as when you catch a cold);
- when we swallow them, if the bacteria are on our fingers or in food – which can then result in food poisoning.
Why does infection happen in a healthcare environment?
Healthcare associated infections (HCAIs) can occur in any healthcare environment including acute hospitals and long-term care facilities such as nursing homes. These infections happen because people who are in healthcare facilities are usually more vulnerable to infection due pre-existing disease, surgical procedures, medical treatments, indwelling medical devices (e.g., urinary catheters, intravenous infusions, implants) or a weakened immune system due to disease or treatment. As people age and become frail they also become more likely to pick up infections. Patients can also come into hospital with pre-existing infection.
What if I get an infection?
If you get an infection staff will advise you what they will do to treat the symptoms and help you recover. This may mean that you are moved to a side room or that staff will wear aprons and or gloves when treating you. This is to prevent other patients getting the infection. Hand hygiene is paramount.
Can I still have visitors?
Yes, visitors are still allowed. MRSA or other antibiotic resistant infections don’t normally harm healthy people.
Where can I find more information on this or similar issues?
There are lots of different sources of advice. You can ask a nurse or doctor on the ward who will be able to answer your questions.
You can also visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/mrsa/pages/introduction.aspx or contact NHS Choices by phoning 111.
The Health and Social Care Act 2008 – Code of Practice on the Prevention and Control of Infections and related guidance (see link below) has 10 criteria that all registered health care providers will be assessed on. These criteria include:
- Appropriate management arrangements to monitor the prevention and control of infection
- Providing and maintaining the environment and patient equipment to prevent and control infections
- Provision of information on infections to patients, visitors and staff
- Ensuring that appropriate policies and guidelines are in place e.g. Hand Hygiene
- Staff responsibilities in relation to infection prevention and control
- Surveillance processes to monitor infection and implement strategies to prevent the spread of infection
The Infection Prevention and Control Team provide regular updates to the Trust Board on all 10 criteria.
The Health and Social Care Act 2008 – Code of Practice on the prevention and control of infections and related guidance
MRSA bacteraemia – nationally published data
Clostridium difficile infection – nationally published data
Infectious diseases – nationally published data