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Wednesday, June 3, 1998 Published at 18:13 GMT 19:13 UK


Health

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.

Hygiene

She said some people lacked knowledge of basic standards of hygiene and she warned against the risk of over-prescription of antibiotics.


[ image: Baroness Jay says one in 10 get ill in hospital]
Baroness Jay says one in 10 get ill in hospital
Over-use of antibiotics has led to MRSA (multi resistant staphlococcus aureus), one of the most common hospital bugs, becoming resistant to many treatments. Health experts are worried about containing the bug, which is reaching epidemic proportions and can be fatal.

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.

Surveillance

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.



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