Why overcrowded hospitals don’t cure

June 25th, 2008 - 1:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 25 (IANS) Overcrowding and understaffing in hospitals facilitate transmission of infections within the premises, according to a review study. Crowding results in increased levels of Meticillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) infections, prompting increased indoor stay, bed-blocking, overcrowding and even more MRSA infections, according to Archie Clements of the US School of Population Health.

Clements, who was part of a seven-member team that undertook the review study, described MRSA as a resistant type of Staphylococcus Aureus, a common bacteria, present on the skin and in the nostrils of many healthy people.

“MRSA often colonises hospital patients to no ill effect but, if present in a surgical wound or carried to the bloodstream by an intravenous catheter, it can cause serious infection and possibly the death of the patient,” he said.

Clements attributed higher levels of MRSA to overcrowding and understaffing because of its impact on hand hygiene, the number of contacts between healthcare workers and different patients, overburdening of screening and isolation programmes.

“Overcrowding and understaffing, root causes of the MRSA problem, are partly related to policy that promotes high patient output and fewer beds, and partly to a diminishing, ageing health care workforce.

“These problems are likely to continue or worsen, and impact on patient health and safety, unless new ways are found to reduce overcrowding and understaffing of hospitals.”

The findings of the review are slated to be published in the July edition of the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases.

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