Superbug Fear

Now, I don’t know about you but I have a fear of hospitals. I have good reason to be afraid. I don’t mind needles and I’m not afraid of pain but I would be concerned about picking up another hospital acquired infection (HCAI). My fears are well-justified as it’s no secret that Irish hospitals are rife with superbugs. Mary Harney says she doesn’t accept that people are afraid of our hospitals. She would say that, wouldn’t she? She hasn’t had to fight for her life following a serious MRSA infection.

Today’s news (and I particularly recommend that you listen to the audio links at the bottom of RTE page) has done nothing to allay my fears. Over a 7-month period last year, a high incidence of deaths which were directly or indirectly attributable to superbugs, was recorded at one Dublin hospital. This hospital has no consultant microbiologist in place and is forced to ‘borrow’ these services from another hospital. It beggars belief after the outcry over the prevalence of HCAI’s in Ireland, that this relaxed attitude to infection control continues to exists in our health service.

Mary Harney says she is learning from best practice and that plans are in place to minimise the possibility of acquiring HCAI’s. You know what Mary? Two can play at your game. I don’t believe you!

14 Responses to Superbug Fear

  1. Baino says:

    I can’t believe this! Steph, your politicians are in complete denial. It’s like the South African President thinking that AIDS is transmitted via poor dietary habits and hygeine. How can someone so ignorant be tolerated in such a position? Who’s best practice is Mary Harney learning from?

  2. Grannymar says:

    Years ago I stopped listening to the news because it was all murder by weapons of Paramilitries.

    Now I might stop listening again because it is all murder by the weapons/ bugs (HCAI) of the Health Service.

  3. Steph says:

    Baino – I think the reality is that Harney is putting more time into fighting *those with vested interests in the health service rather than sorting out the problems on the ground.

    *those – includes the HSE (Health Service Executive).

    Harney is seriously hindered by the bureaucracy within the HSE (which she inherited) in her efforts to reform the health service. The sooner Cowen takes over from Bertie, the better. He isn’t afraid of the unions and will most likely give Harney the support she needs to get on with the job. Let’s face it, no-one else knows the ropes like she does and no-one else is going to want the job either.

    Sorry! Grannymar – but here’s some more news you won’t want to hear…

    http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/breaking/2008/0418/breaking30.htm

  4. Caoimhin says:

    If the proper records would have been kept through the years this catastrophe would have been exposed and dealt with before it became so rampant! Thanks for keeping this in the sunlight Steph!

  5. Steph says:

    You’re on the ball as always, CAO!

    Harney knows that the problem with superbugs is serious. It’s outrageous that she looks for kudos for setting up reports when everyone already knows that the superbugs are endemic in Irish hospitals. She’d get more kudos if she got on with putting serious measures in place to tackle the issue.

  6. She can’t accept ….

    I saw her make that comment too and I couldn’t believe she’d make such a stupid comment.

    Mary ….. people are afraid to go to hospital. Even the visitors are afraid. And when they do get the courage to go …. they’re not allowed in because some ward or other is closed because of the bug you think isn’t a problem!

  7. Nick says:

    Steph, by a strange coincidence I’ve just posted about cancelled operations and hygiene issues! I’m far more nervous about admission to hospital than I am about flying. There’s so much about bad hygiene, superbugs, blood clots, surgical errors, drug overdoses and all the rest. I’m sure if I went into hospital there’s a good chance I’d come out dead or more ill than when I went in.

    The cleanliness scandal is almost as bad in UK hospitals and nobody seems able to sort it out. The privatisation of ward cleaning and care of surgical instruments has clearly lowered standards rather than raising them. Short-staffing and bed-overcrowding also make it harder to control the bugs.

  8. Knipex says:

    In fairness steph now that c.diff is a recorded disease and MRSA rates for each hospital are being published it allows us the public (as well as MAry HArney) to see actual monthly figures for each hospital and see what exactly is happening with no spin.

    Improvement or (more likely) increased infection rates will be obvious to every one and the HSe or individual hospitals will not be able to hide any more. That alone should put huge focus on the problem at local and national levels.

  9. Steph says:

    Paddy – absolutely! It was a STUPID comment. Harney has a knack of alienating people. She would have been much better off saying something like this:

    “I can appreciate that people are scared of hospitals but I want to assure everyone that everything that can be done to eliminate potential risks, will be done.”

    Then we might have some respect for what she is trying to achieve within the health service.

    Nick – if you want to see what really goes on at the frontline of the NHS, I recommend you tune into Mousethinks. Mousie is in charge of a busy A&E Dept and is witness to the reality of government/management decisions.

    http://mousethinks.blogspot.com/

    Knipex – your point is very valid. Harney is trying to put systems in place to pre-empt further serious outbreaks of HCAI’s in the future. This is much-needed and admirable but her habit of quoting statistics at a time of public outcry, does little to reassure those whose lives have already been affected by the superbugs.

  10. mousie says:

    Good for you Steph :o)

    You’re tagged by the way!

  11. Elizabeth says:

    After multiple sinus infections, and sinus surgery last April, I have just been diagnosed as having MRSA in my sinuses. I am overwhelmed by the stuff I’m finding on-line, and I have many questions…
    Can I cook for people? Do I have to worry about my kids and husband? My 83 year old father is in extremely frail health…. can I visit him? Do I have to tell my dentist that I have it? Or other physicians?
    I am really confused and a little freaked out…. thanks for any guidance you can offer.

  12. Steph says:

    Hi! Elizabeth

    I’m so sorry to hear of what you’re going through. I agree, it’s very scary to be told that you have MRSA and then to be left to your own devices. Having said that, there’s a lot of scaremongering going on out there about MRSA so don’t believe everything you hear. I would recommend that you find out as much as you can about it yourself (online), then make a list of the worries you have and consult your doctor/specialist to discuss.

    Here are a few links to factsheets on MRSA which I hope will help to answer some of your questions:

    http://www.hpsc.ie/hpsc/A-Z/MicrobiologyAntimicrobialResistance/EuropeanAntimicrobialResistanceSurveillanceSystemEARSS/ReferenceandEducationalResourceMaterial/SaureusMRSA/Factsheets/AdviceforthoseAffectedbyMRSAOutsideofHospital/File,3245,en.pdf

    http://www.hpsc.ie/hpsc/A-Z/MicrobiologyAntimicrobialResistance/EuropeanAntimicrobialResistanceSurveillanceSystemEARSS/ReferenceandEducationalResourceMaterial/SaureusMRSA/Factsheets/StaphylococcusAureusandMRSAFrequentlyAskedQuestions/

    http://www.hpsc.ie/hpsc/A-Z/MicrobiologyAntimicrobialResistance/EuropeanAntimicrobialResistanceSurveillanceSystemEARSS/ReferenceandEducationalResourceMaterial/SaureusMRSA/Factsheets/MRSAInformationforPatientsandVisitors/File,1747,en.pdf

    I hope you find this helpful and I wish you the best of luck with your treatment.

  13. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you, Steph. I’ve checked out the links and they’re very helpful
    I really appreciate your response!

  14. Steph says:

    Thanks! Elizabeth

    Nice of you to let me know – you’ve just made my day! 😀 I love to hear that my blog has served a useful purpose.

    If you’d like to read more of what I’ve written about MRSA, just click on where you see MRSA in the sidebar (on right) and it will select all the posts where MRSA is featured. Scroll down through the posts and you’ll find lots more information.

    Take care!

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