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Last Updated: Monday, 7 January 2008, 01:32 GMT
MRSA 'could be treated at home'
MRSA
MRSA is usually treated in hospital
Up to a third of people with MRSA could be discharged from hospital and treated at home with antibiotics, experts say.

They say moving away from treating patients in hospital with antibiotics administered into their veins could save the NHS significant sums of money.

The issue is discussed by independent experts in a report, funded by the drug company Pfizer, about managing MRSA.

The Department of Health said treatment at home was not always appropriate, but it was an option for trusts to examine.

Individual trusts should look at provision by specialist teams, it said.

Treating people with MRSA at home offers multiple benefits
Professor Mark Wilcox
University of Leeds

But the experts' report said in many cases those treated for MRSA in hospital were otherwise medically fit and could be given antibiotics - possibly by nurses - at home, once the infection had left their bloodstream.

It said patients with MRSA spend an average of 11 extra days in hospital.

'Gimmicks'

If they were sent home instead, it could slash the annual 1bn cost of treatment, the report added.

One NHS trust in London that tried such a scheme saved about 100,000 a year.

The Health Protection Agency's latest figures on hospital MRSA infections in England show there were 1,303 cases reported between April and June last year, compared with 1,447 reported between January and March.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Gordon Brown pledged that in the future all patients entering NHS hospitals in England would be screened for MRSA and Clostridium difficile.

He said tackling hospital-acquired infections was an "absolute priority" and a programme of deep cleaning in hospitals had begun.

The Conservatives, who dismissed his plans as "one-off gimmicks", last week proposed financial penalties for English hospitals for each patient contracting MRSA or C.diff.

But the British Medical Association said those plans would discourage hospitals from treating the most vulnerable patients.

Surgical wounds

MRSA infections can cause a broad range of symptoms depending on the part of the body that is infected.

These may include surgical wounds, burns, catheter sites, the eye, skin and blood.

Professor Mark Wilcox, an expert in microbiology at the University of Leeds, said: "Treating people with MRSA at home offers multiple benefits in terms of infection control, and reducing NHS costs and resource use.

"Many patients would also prefer to be discharged from hospital to be with their families while they finish their treatment, and they should be given that option, where possible."

However, Professor Mark Enright, of Imperial College London, cast doubt on whether home treatment was suitable for many patients.

He said: "I'm sure there are patients that you could pack off home with their course of tablets.

"But for those with a proper bloodstream infection, you would have to monitor them closely."



VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
How 'home treatment' for MRSA might work



SEE ALSO
Brown pledges superbug screening
06 Jan 08 |  UK Politics
Cameron defends superbug 'fines'
03 Jan 08 |  UK Politics
MRSA 'superbugs'
24 Feb 05 |  J-M

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