NICE reports on high infection rates in the NHS

NICE has issued “quality standards” on infection prevention and control stating that doctors and nurses should do more to stop hospital patients developing infections.

NICE research revealed that one in 16 people treated in the NHS picks up an infection – equating to around 300,000 people each year.  In 2007 MRSA infections and C difficile infections were recorded as the underlying cause or a contributory factor in approximately 9000 deaths in hospitals and primary care in England.  While steps have been taken to reduce the infection rates of these bugs, other infection rates are still too high.

The most common types of healthcare related infections are respiratory infections, urinary tract infections and surgical site infections.  The new standards set out advice on how to bring down infection rates including recommending that healthcare workers always clean their hands thoroughly, follow correct procedures for catheter use and promote safe use of antibiotics.

Professor Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE, said “It is unacceptable that infection rates are still so high within the NHS.  Infections are a costly and avoidable burden.  They hinder a patient’s recovery, can make underlying conditions worse, and reduce quality of life.” He added “Although there have been major improvements within the NHS in infection control, particularly in relation to Clostridium difficile and MRSA bloodstream infections in the last few years, healthcare-associated infection are still a very real threat to patients, their families and carers and staff.  This quality standard gives primary, community and secondary care services the most up-to-date advice on the best ways to minimise the risks of infection.”

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