Tuesday, 15 November 2005

MRSA kills

There was a radio item this morning about a guy who claims that MRSA is far more widespread than has been admitted by the NHS. He sells MRSA cleaning kits and the general opinion of experts is that he is a con merchant.
Well John, that was interesting – not. Why bother us with the news and then deflate it by saying it was rubbish?
There was much talk about MRSA and cleaning standards. That struck a chord going back to some while ago when I was sitting around in a ward as a visitor. Yes – there was a cleaner operating in the ward. Yes – we had all treated our hands with some spray thing. However, the cleaning method was poorly devised or supervised. The operative had a mop which she fumbled around on the floor. The water used to rinse the mop was dirty. The mop left dirty or greasy smears on the lino. Items such as side cupboards, tables and desks were not moved and the mop was just run along the outline. There was no apparent cleaning of anything between the floor level and flat surfaces such as desktops. The moulded skirting board was not cleaned. There was no sign of any disinfectant.
I cannot understand the debate about proper cleaning. Even if the ward I saw had received attention to the deficiencies, I still would not regard it as ‘proper’ cleaning. I started mentally to draw up a specification for a cleaning contractor and it was quickly apparent we were really looking at a decontamination operation. After all, if it were possible to control MRSA with a Jiffy cloth and Mr Muscle, what is the problem? Even with a decent specification, there could be no guarantee that the standards were maintained by operatives. They would need special training and constant supervision. The Health & Safety people would get involved in protection for cleaners and would doubtless call for the wards to be emptied whilst the work was in progress.
Given the serious complications – not least death – that MRSA brings, it is surprising that the risk has not been better handled. Maybe there is a connection between the cost to achieve the proper standards and the government’s half-hearted response to the threat?

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