Patients exposed to killer bugs
PATIENTS at Lismore Base Hospital are more likely to be infected with life-threatening bloodstream infections – including staphylococcus – than those admitted to any hospital across the state.
The aging hospital will be publicly named and shamed on the Federal Government’s Myhospital website after health ministers succumbed to a campaign by leading medical professions on Friday.
According to the NSW Health infections data, quoted in the Sunday Telegraph yesterday, an average of 45 patients a month acquire the preventable staphylococcus aurous bloodstream infections in NSW hospitals and a quarter of them do not survive the infection.
Last year 545 patients contracted the infection, of which 136 would have died as a result, the paper said.
While the benchmark for bloodstream infections is two per 10,000 bed days, Lismore Base recorded 3.4 infections, followed by Sydney and Sydney Eye hospitals, both on 3.2.
Lismore Base Hospital Medical Staff Council’s Dr Chris Ingall said the reason the hospital had such as high rate of the staphylococcus was because of its high prevalence in the wider community.
“Lismore Base has a problem because, in the Northern Rivers area, we have the highest cases of community-acquired and multi-resistance to staphylococcus infection,” he said.
Infectious disease expert Professor Peter Collignon said most bloodstream infections could be prevented if healthcare workers adhered to strict hand-hygiene protocols.
“It is the hands of staff that move bugs from patient ‘a’ to patient ‘b’,” the Sunday Telegraph quoted him saying.
Northern Local Area Health Network chief executive Chris Crawford could not be contacted yesterday.
However, late last year when the hospital was named as fourth worst in the state, a spokeswoman for the then North Coast Area Health Service said staff were working to turn the rate of infection around.
She said efforts such as staff education, improving hand-hygiene compliance and developing “starter packs” for the insertion of IV lines were yielding dramatic results.