Stop, gel and go: that's the message from our infection prevention team for everyone visiting our hospital.
Always use the gel provided to help us keep our patients safe. Clean hands save lives!
All patients coming in to NGH for a planned operation are screened for MRSA.
All our emergency patients are screened on admission to the hospital.
At NGH we take infection prevention & control seriously, as infections such as MRSA can prolong a patient’s stay, cause considerable distress to patients and their families and, in severe cases, have fatal consequences. Hospital infections can also have an impact on waiting times for other patients, reduce the availability of NHS resources and cause sickness and absence in staff. Not all hospital infection is avoidable but a lot of infection can be prevented - so we want to reduce the risk of acquiring a hospital infection for patients, public and staff.
Hospital acquired infections and cleanliness are key concerns for patients and the public and therefore are priorities for the trust. With thousands of patients and visitors walking through the doors of our hospital last year, maintaining a clean and safe environment is a challenge, particularly as many of our services are housed in old buildings. Despite such difficulties, staff have made big efforts to improve cleanliness and compliance with infection control measures.
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The hospital has an infection prevention and control team. The team coordinates efforts to reduce infection by focusing on hand hygiene, ward cleanliness, better detection and tracking of hospital-acquired infections, improved use of antibiotics and staff and patient education. Pat Wadsworth is the senior nurse for infection control and provides additional expertise and support in tackling the spread of infection.
However controlling hospital infections effectively requires the support and co-operation not just of staff, but of every person who enters our hospital - patients, family and friends.
What you can do to help
MRSA and other hospital infections are usually passed on by human contact, often from the skin of the hands which is why washing and cleaning hands is so important in our efforts to reduce infection rates. Foaming hand sanitiser dispensers have now been placed beside every bed. The sanitiser is very effective in killing germs and is easy to use even on sensitive skin. Simply rub the sanitiser onto dry hands and let it evaporate.
Everyone can help combat infections by following these simple hand hygiene steps:
- Always wash hands or use the foaming hand sanitiser before/on entering and when leaving clinical areas (such as wards)
- Always wash your hands after using the toilet, or before and after preparing food
- If you are a patient, try to limit the number of visitors you have at any one time. The more people on our wards, the more the chance of infection spreading
- If you are concerned that staff are not cleaning hands or adhering to infection control procedures, please remind them as they may have forgotten.
- If soap or hand towels are not available, or if the bathroom and toilet facilities are not clean, please tell a member of staff.
New patient visiting times have been introduced on all wards to stem the flow of visitors through the hospital in order to safeguard our patients and contribute to infection prevention. Visiting hours on most general wards are restricted, excluding paediatric, maternity and intensive care. A limit of two visitors per patient is also recommended, but sometimes we will ask you to reduce this to one visitor per patient.
If you are prescribed antibiotics, make sure you finish the full course, even if you feel better part way through, as otherwise not all the bacteria will be killed and those that do survive may develop a resistance to the drug.
Foaming hand sanitiser
A key tool in this is encouraging all staff and visitors to regularly clean their hands with the foaming hand sanitiser that is available whenever they enter a ward or when they are about to have contact with patients.
You will find a foaming hand sanitiser dispenser at the entrance to every ward and in various other locations around the hospital.
Please use this every time you visit a patient to minimise the risk of passing an infection onto them.
It's a simple process. Just press the button on the dispenser and rub the sanitiser into your hand, taking care to cover both the palm and backs of your hands and the skin between your fingers.
The sanitiser will dry in a couple of seconds and you are free to enter the ward.
Please do not hesitate to ask members of staff coming into contact with your friend or relative whether they have used the foaming hand sanitiser.
Hospital acquired infections
Following simple hygiene rules such as washing hands can prevent the majority of the infections described below, and when patients do acquire an infection they can usually be effectively treated with antibiotics.
Staphylococcus aureus is a common skin bacterium: at any one time around a third of us have Staph.aureus on our skin or in our nose without any ill effects. This bacteria can cause disease, particularly if there is an opportunity for it to enter the body and the person has a weakened immune system. Illnesses such as skin and wound infections, urinary tract infections, pneumonia and bacteraemia (blood stream infection) may then develop. It can also cause food poisoning.
MRSA - Meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
Antibiotics are used to treat infections caused by bacteria. However, bacteria that are not killed by antibiotics can develop resistance, which enables them to survive and multiply. Some types of Staph.aureus have become resistant to certain antibiotics, which means the antibiotics are no longer able to kill the bacteria. One such strain is resistant to meticillin (a type of penicillin commonly used to treat such infections) and is therefore known as meticillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
MSSA - Meticillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus
Staphylococcus aureus that can be killed by meticillin or other penicillin-like antibiotics, such as flucloxacillin, is described as meticillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA).
Clostridium difficile is a bacterium which is usually found in the large intestine. It is normally ‘kept in check’ by the ‘friendly’ bacteria of the gut. In some patients when they are prescribed antibiotics it removes all the healthy intestinal bacteria allowing Clostridium difficile to multiply and produce toxins. These toxins cause severe diarrhoea, ranging from a mild form to a very severe illness with bleeding, rupture of the intestine, leading to severe inflammation and can in severe cases have fatal consequences.
Acinetobacter is a type of bacteria that is commonly found in the environment, in drinking and surface waters, soil, sewage and various different types of foods. Many healthy people probably carry these bacteria on their skins with no adverse effect. There are about 25 different types of Acinetobacter, and a few of these, particularly a species called Acinetobacter baumannii, can cause infections in hospital patients who are already unwell. Such infections can include pneumonia, bacteraemia (blood stream infection), skin and wound infections, or urinary tract infection. These 'hospital-adapted' strains of Acinetobacter are sometimes resistant to antibiotics and may be difficult to treat.
If you have any concerns about infection control at the trust please contact infection control on 01604 545785.