Reducing healthcare associated infection in hospitals in England: fifty-second report of session 2008-09, report, together with formal minutes, oral and written evidence

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Every year over 300,000 patients in England acquire a healthcare associated infection whilst in hospital. These infections cost the NHS more than 1 billion a year. They are caused by a variety of organisms and lead to a range of symptoms from minor discomfort to serious disability or death. In 2007, there were 9,000 deaths recorded with Meticillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) or Clostridium difficile infections as the underlying cause of a contributory factor. This is the Committee's third report on this key indicator of quality and safety of NHS care and it finds the Department's hands on approach has been successful in reducing MRSA bloodstream and C. difficile infections. Hospitals cleanliness has improved and the priority given to reducing these two targeted infections has started to have an impact on hospital trusts overall infection prevention and control. This progress has not been matched on other healthcare associated infections and best available evidence from voluntary reporting of other bloodstream infections suggests that these may be increasing. Indeed, the Department's decision not to introduce mandatory surveillance of all hospital acquired infections means there is still no robust comparable data on the extent and risks of at least 80 per cent of healthcare associated infections. There has also been limited progress in improving information on, and understanding of, hospital antibiotic prescribing and the evidence that is available on other bloodstream infections, which can be just as serious as MRSA, suggests the problem may be growing and that antibiotic resistant organisms are increasing.

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