HIS Meeting Posters up to usual standard

The seventh International Conference of the Hospital Infection Society is currently taking place in Liverpool, UK and as ever the posters are proving a fertile area for new and practical work. There are some really creative pieces of work that attendees can take away and put into practice easily, hoever I was particularly struck with one from Stephanie Main, a Medical Student from Newcastle University who undertook a small-scale piece of work looking at compliance with Trust policy with regard to Urinary Catheter Management and finding that it was low. Stephanie also looked in the medical notes at the stated rationale that a urinary catheter was inserted into a vulnerable person and finding a wide range of reasons, including measurement of output and incontinence. There are other ways of managing these issues and I do wonder just how many urinary catheters are placed inappropriately and how many patients recieve antibiotics for a UTI that they would not have got if a catheter had not been passed.

The Season Approaches..

Well, we’re fast approaching ‘kick-off’ in the 2010-11 Norovirus season. After a bumper year in the previous year what will the forthcoming winter bring? I wonder if anything will come of Ben Lopman’s excellent paper in the Journal of Hospital Infection earlier this year? Will we be using the intelligence that this resource could provide that may give us an inkling of what is to come, something to pick a significant sound from the background noise? Sadly I suspect not. NHS Direct is a valuable tool that should be used as an early warning system, however will we again see a winter where wards and whole hospitals are closed? We must do more to take advantage of the opportunities that are presented to us.

HM Government abolishes key Advisory Committees

Hmm… Interesting. The BBC has managed to obtain a copy of a list of ‘quangos’ that are recommended to be abolished. Among them are ARHAI (Advisory Committee on Antimicrobial Resistance and Heathcare-associated Infections) and the Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens. Still, at least there’s nothing to be worried about there then.

After all, I’m sure that ESBLs and NDM-1 will soon be a thing of the past and that the future antibiotic-wise is rosy. Without ARHAI lobbying there would be over-the-counter antibiotics for sale in the UK and they have produced a number of important reports including the recommendations on priorities for surveillance that the DH are currently considering in response to the Public Accounts Committee flack. Interestingly it isn’t mentioned in the current consultation on indicators. Am I the only one who feels slightly uncomfortable about a Government that feels it needs no impartial advice?

…. and we’re back…

Well after a two-year gap during which time I’ve been um.. rather busy it’s time to resurrect the blog. Times have changed somewhat; targets achieved, death rates down, job done. Er, possibly not. Although it was most people’s best guess that controlling MRSA and C. difficile would lead to a similar fall in other infections this hasn’t quite turned out to be true. Sensitive S. aureus and E. coli bacteraemias are on the up and there are new kids on the block. So we Infection Prevention specialists are still needed after all..

Pressure on NHS Staff not to give patients the ‘flu

Medical experts are reported on the BBC website as putting patients at risk by the potential transmission of influenza from staff to patient. It is being suggested that staff who fail to be vaccinated are placing patients in jeapordy. Reporting that the uptake this year has been poor (one in 7 seven in England and one in five in Scotland), the reasons for this are given as staff do not think they need the vaccine because they are not sick, others are put off because they mistakenly believe the jab will give them flu or are worried about side effects whilst other staff say they simply “haven’t got the time”, or just cannot be bothered to get vaccinated. I do wonder if access to vaccination sessions and a limited number of these due to hard-pressed Occupational Health departments are also implicated in poor uptake rates. The message is clear though, staff should consider vaccination, as they and their patients will benefit.

Fines for HCAIs ‘Unfair’ say Experts

A team from Oxford University and the Medical Research Council have expressed the opinion that the new system of fining Trusts for HCAIs that is to commence next year is inherently unfair. The article in this weeks BMJ even goes as far as arguing that under the proposed system financial penalties will be almost impossible to avoid. There are clear anomalies in the system and the authors point to a scenario where, because of the mathemetics, an organisation may have 199 cases and recieve no penalty, whereas a single extra case will push them into a fine of 2% of contract revenue which could amount to millions of pounds. Thankfully these penalties are at the discretion of PCTs, some of which may wish to look to return the penalty to the ‘offending’ organisation in a ring-fenced manner to be spent on Infection Prevention measures.