16 December 2008

File under Unintended Consequences, 2

Via the BBC comes a report, from a conference hosted by the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases, that some healthcare-infection experts in the UK are publicly questioning efforts to reduce hospital-acquired MRSA.

The argument is that, by focusing so tightly on MRSA, hospitals neglect other drug-resistant HAIs to such an extent that the overall rate of illness in the hospital remains approximately the same. They argue instead for a broader focus on all resistant and nosocomial organisms:
"It's not clear that overall things have got better," ... said [Dr Mark Millar, a medical microbiologist at St. Bartholomew's Hospital and the London NHS Trust].
"Rates of E. coli are going up and it almost compensates for MRSA.
"All you've done is replaced one problem with another one," he said. ... ""There's no evidence that overall we have fewer hospital infections or fewer people are dying." (Byline: Emma Wilkinson)
This is a highly contentious debate in the US as well, with no resolution in sight. I've covered some aspects of it here, and there is a long point-counterpoint from Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology here and here.

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