Already stressed hospital systems are suffering under the added burden of antibiotic-resistant infections, warn infectious diseases experts.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection is an entrenched problem throughout Australian hospitals, according to an editorial in the latest issue of the Medical Journal of Australia.
Professor Peter Collignon, Director of the Infectious Diseases Unit and Microbiology Department at Canberra Hospital and Professor Lindsay Grayson, Director Infectious Diseases & Clinical Epidemiology at Austin Health, and their colleague, say many in the health sector feel overwhelmed by the MRSA problem and think little can be done to correct it.
The cost of not dealing with MRSA includes prolonged patient length of stay and increased suffering for the patient, says Professor Collignon.
Professor Collignon says that to reduce the prevalence of MRSA, all areas of the health care community and government need to have a better understanding of the pathogen and infection control issues.
'We need basic infection control practices to be followed by all clinical staff and students... enough equipment and supplies [available at all times]... and adequate personnel in infection control, microbiology and environmental services,' says Professor Collignon.
We need better hospital design, he adds, emphasising the need for contact precautions for infected patients and more single-bed rooms.
Professor Collignon says better leadership is needed if these measures are to be effective. 'We need to recognise that MRSA is a signal that the system is stressed.
'[This requires] a new era of government leadership in providing adequately resourced modern hospital facilities with infection control principles at the core of their design, not just added as an afterthought.'