New guidelines to halt MRSA spread

New clinical guidelines have been launched to prevent the spread of a potential killer hospital superbug.

Health Minister James Reilly said measures, which include isolating patients infected with MRSA and making sure staff wash their hands, will help save lives and costs in the healthcare system.

Dr Reilly said while rates of MRSA have halved since 2006, there is still a long way to go.

“We must continue to systematically address the prevalence of MRSA in Ireland,” he said.

“This guideline is a significant step.”

MRSA is a strain of bacteria that has become resistant to antibiotics and which can cause severe infections. It can be fatal in cases of septicaemia and pneumonia.

The rate of infection in Ireland has fallen from 42% in 2006 to 22% last year.

The second national clinical guideline – called Prevention and Control Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) – was backed by the National Clinical Effectiveness Committee (NCEC) and endorsed by the minister.

It provides 53 practical recommendations on prevention and control measures for MRSA to improve patient care, minimise patient morbidity and mortality and to help contain healthcare costs.

The guidelines were launched following criticisms by the health watchdog, Hiqa, which raised concerns about hand hygiene practices among medical staff in hospitals.

They have been developed for all healthcare staff involved in the care of patients, residents or clients in acute hospitals, obstetrics and neonates, nursing homes/long stay residential units and the community.

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