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MRSA superbug found in baby ward of flagship hospital
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Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, where MRSA was identified
LYNDSAY MOSS HEALTH CORRESPONDENT
  • Four babies were found to be carrying MRSA at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary
  • Director of public health said the neonatal incidents had been dealt with
  • Health Minister Andy Kerr has been reasured by saftey measures in place

Key quote "I don't think there are grounds to be worried about the unit. They probably have the best healthcare-associated infections-handling system in Scotland now, because of the measures that have been taken." - Andy Kerr, the health minister

Story in full BABIES at one of Scotland's leading neonatal units have been found to be carrying the MRSA superbug, it emerged yesterday.

NHS Lothian said four babies were discovered to be carrying the bug on their skin at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary unit during April and May.

It followed two previous "clusters" in the past year which did not emerge until yesterday.

Between November and December, four cases of MRSA were reported at the unit, which opened in October 2003 as part of £184 million new hospital and provides care for babies born prematurely.

Two were infections that had spread into the body, while the other two were colonisations - meaning the bacteria was present on the skin but not in the body.

There were then no further cases found until March, when one infection and four colonisations were reported.

Dr Alison McCallum, director of public health at NHS Lothian, said these clusters were dealt with by the unit, which admits around 700 babies a year, and the problem appeared to be over. But the third cluster prompted a detailed plan to address infection control issues.

Dr McCallum, speaking at the board's annual review meeting with Andy Kerr, the health minister, said this had resulted in a "deep clean" of the unit. She said babies were now also screened for MRSA on admission to the unit and weekly. "We are now content that all the steps that should have been taken have been taken," Dr McCallum said.

"None of these babies was unwell as a result of the presence of MRSA and none has required additional treatment."

The health board was questioned over the MRSA clusters by Mr Kerr as he reviewed the progress over the past year, and he said the issue was "such a significant matter of patient confidence" that it needed to be taken seriously.

But the minister said that while the unit had faced some "big challenges", he had been reassured by the measures taken.

"The changes they have made are about best practice, on matters such as the way the unit was used, the proximity of cots to each other and so on," he said.

"I don't think there are grounds to be worried about the unit. They probably have the best healthcare-associated infections-handling system in Scotland now, because of the measures that have been taken."

Christine Perry, of the Infection Control Nurses Association, said infants in neonatal intensive care were at particular risk from infections.

"The nature of intensive care means using drips and drains, which puts babies at greater risk of any infection. MRSA in neonatal units is something that hospitals take very seriously," she added.

Source The Scotsman