Wednesday, June 3, 1998 Published at 18:13 GMT 19:13 UK
Hospital makes one in 10 sick
Hoping to get well, but will hospital make you sicker?
One in 10 hospital patients become infected after admission, health minister Baroness Jay has told the House of Lords.
Although she said the Department of Health was monitoring hospital infections, she admitted that there were no national statistics on the number of patients who have to stay in hospital or be re-admitted because of infections.
Baroness Jay was replying to a question from former Conservative minister Baroness Young, who urged the government to make a "much greater effort" to collect information and confront the problem.
She said some people lacked knowledge of basic standards of hygiene and she warned against the risk of over-prescription of antibiotics.
MRSA is carried on the skin and mucous membranes, such as the nose.
Hospital patients and elderly people in nursing homes are particularly at risk of infection because they often have exposed wounds and a weakened immune system.
Baroness Jay said the Department of Health was working with the Public Health Laboratory to develop a new system for surveilling hospital-acquired infection.
The department is commissioning new clinical guidelines on standards for infection control from the Standing Medical Advisory Committee.