Shocked by attitude to MRSA

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.326.7402.1328 (Published 12 June 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:1328
  1. Winifred Beaumont, full time carer, retired

    EDITOR—I am writing with reference to the correspondence from Howard et al.1 My husband was in a NHS hospital for six months in 1999-2000. Visiting each day, I was afraid that the very bad standards of cleanliness and hygiene would result in his suffering an infection on top of heart disease and a stroke, quite enough for him to bear. More by luck than proper standards he did not become infected. Since then I have nursed him at home, and during this time he has developed pressure sores and leg ulcers, the district nurses attending twice a week. Now, in spite of being in his own home he has become infected with methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). That brings me to the point of my letter.

    Just before I was told he was infected with MRSA I watched a television programme, audience based, on the subject of infections contracted in hospital, the results of which seem to be sometimes more serious than the reason for admission in the first place. Quite a high proportion of the audience had very sad experiences to relate, and the mood was one of anger. In the audience were two consultants. One seemed very pleased to announce that out of 10 people in hospital only one would contract MRSA or a similar infection—he thought this excellent. The gynaecologist quite confidently stated that he would not wash his hands between patients if examining outer skin, but only if carrying out a more intimate process.

    In leaflets I have obtained it is stated that 30% of people may have MRSA infection. The fact that these leaflets quote figures for mostly hospital patients leads me to believe that the spread into the general public is being ignored.

    Although I wasn't told to notify the various people who attend to him—chiropodists, etc—I rang to warn them. That too was greeted with: “Oh, don't worry, 20% of people have it.” Is it now on a level with the common cold? The attitude of the two consultants on the programme fills me with dread. I'm sure if this problem was more widely known the population would share this fear.


    • Competing interests None declared.


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