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Flagship MRSA screening programme under review

By Amy Fallon

A flagship Department of Health policy to screen all elective and acute emergency hospital patients for MRSA is to be reviewed amid concerns that the policy was based on an over estimate of MRSA rates.

Current national policy is to screen every patient admitted to hospital for elective surgery for MRSA, and patients found to be colonised with MRSA will be returned to the community without being operated on, and those who refuse to be tested may not get surgery at all.

The DH advisory committee on antimicrobial resistance and healthcare-associated infections has warned that ‘from a few pioneers that had done quite a lot of screening it was estimated that the expected rate of colonisation in overall admissions was about 6%.'

Committee minutes, from a meeting in June last year, said a review of screening implementation was under consideration as ‘the figures were the assumptions that DH were working on but anecdotal evidence suggested that they are too high.'

Previous research by the Health Protection Agency has shown less than one in ten cases of MRSA infections are found in people admitted for elective procedures.

There is also limited available evidence that screening all admissions may cost more than risk based screening, without achieving significantly greater reductions in MRSA, and the Department of Health and Health Protection Agency will review the current MRSA screening policy in the light of evidence provided by the audit, to be carried out this month in each acute NHS trust, are published.



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