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MRSA – Rates decreasing claim HSE

DATE: 24.06.2011


Against a backdrop of controversy, standards and guidelines[1], in May 2009 the Health Information and Quality Authority (“HIQA”) published their National Standards for the Prevention and Control of Health Care Associated Infections (“Standards”). These Standards aim to provide an overall framework for health and social care providers to prevent or minimise the occurrence of Healthcare Associated Infections (“HCAIs”) such as MRSA[2]. The Standards are mandatory for all public health and social care facilities under the Health Act 2007 and act as best practise for all private healthcare facilities. 

Summary of the Twelve Step Plan to Help Beat HCAIs

  1. Ensure all members of staff have clear lines of responsibility to ensure prevention and control is efficiently governed.
  2. Implement committees, teams, systems and processes to help prevent and control HCAIs.
  3. Provide isolated areas, spacious clinical areas and an environment that can be kept clean to minimise the risk of acquiring HCAIs.
  4. Provide ongoing education and training to all members of staff.
  5. Communicate information regarding HCAIs accurately and in a timely manner.
  6. Ensure strong hand hygiene practices are in place.
  7. Implement scientifically proven infection control practices to prevent spread of transmissible diseases.
  8. Implement specific policies to reduce the risk of obtaining an infection from the use of Invasive Medical Devices.
  9. Ensure quick access to good microbiology services that respond quickly to ensure HCAIs are detected and dealt with as soon as possible.
  10. Ensure outbreaks are effectively managed and controlled.
  11. Implement services to monitor HCAIs and antibiotic resistance and share this information with staff.
  12. Reduce and control antibiotic resistance.

The HSE claims that adherence to both these Standards and the previous guidelines has already led to a substantial reduction in the number of MRSA cases in Ireland. MRSA figures have decreased by 27% in the three year period 2006-2008[3]. Consolidated figures for 2009 are not yet available however they currently stand at just 191 reported hospital cases for the period January – June 2009.

Clinicians would agree that in a resource constrained environment, implementation of these Standards must remain a top priority. It is important for hospitals to put in place policies and protocols of how to deal with MRSA and to ensure that these are adhered to rigorously in order to maintain a continued reduction in MRSA rates. It is critical that hospitals can comply with the protocols they adopt as the adherence to the protocol and the protocol itself will be examined by a Court in any case concerning the negligent contraction of MRSA.


[1] Guidelines on the Control of MRSA in the Irish Health Care Setting, Department of Health August 1995

[2] Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus

[3] According to the Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney, answering Minister’s questions on 9 July 2009.


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