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Publication Date: 27/01/2010 

NHS Lanarkshire launches new MRSA screening programme 

New programme implemented to help fight infection. 

MRSA screening launch 

At the launch of NHS Lanarkshire's MRSA Screening Programme 

NHS Lanarkshire has launched a new MRSA screening programme to help fight infection.

People admitted to Monklands Hospital, Wishaw General Hospital or Hairmyres Hospital for a planned overnight appointment will be screened to reduce the chance of MRSA infection for both themselves and other patients. Emergency admissions for some specialities will also be screened. However, patients attending hospital for planned day surgery will not be screened.

The MRSA bacterium is more likely to cause an infection in people who are unwell, so it is important to identify patients coming into hospital who are carrying it before it can infect them or spread to other patients.

NHS Lanarkshire began screening of planned overnight admissions - with the exception of Paediatric, Obstetric and Mental Health patients - on 30 November 2009. The programme is now being extended from the end of January 2010 to emergency admissions for patients over 65 as well as for the following specialities:

Renal/Nephrology

Dermatology

Vascular Surgery.

Dr Alison Graham, NHS Lanarkshire Medical Director, said: “We are committed to tackling healthcare associated infections and MRSA Screening is one of a wide range of initiatives we have in place to help us drive down infection. 

“MRSA is a common bug that can live harmlessly on the skin and is not usually a risk to healthy people. However, it can cause serious problems when it enters an open wound.

“Around seven per cent of all patients who are admitted to hospital have the MRSA bacterium on their skin or in their nose already, even though they may feel well. Screening people who are coming into hospital will allow us to take early action to treat any MRSA before it can causes an infection or spreads to other patients.

The screening process involves collecting a simple swab.  Where appropriate, patients carrying MRSA will be decolonised using an antibiotic ointment in the nose and anti-bacterial body wash.

Dr Graham said: “The test itself is very straight forward and only takes a few seconds. If a patient is found to be carrying MRSA then we will discuss with them how best to manage this.

“Patients can opt out of being screened if they wish, but we are encouraging everyone to take part to help us in the fight against healthcare associated infections.

“MRSA, like many infections, is mainly spread from person to person through hand contact. That is why it is important that visitors to hospital pay attention to good hand hygiene practices and use hand gels."

For more information visit www.hps.scot.nhs.uk/haiic/sshaip/mrsascreeningprogramme.aspx