‘Superbug’ infections under the microscope

DUBAI - Superbug infections and patient safety at hospitals are two vital issues that will come under the microscope at the second Middle East Patient Safety Congress to be held in the city from September 11 to 13 this year.

By A Staff Reporter

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Published: Mon 23 Aug 2004, 10:05 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 1:20 PM

The congress, which will be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, will be attended by more than 300 specialists from across the region. An exhibition to be held alongside will showcase infection control products and solutions for hospitals and clinics.

The growth in the number of hospitals in the region is set to continue into the foreseeable future and their increasing sophistication has brought immediate benefits to patients and families in the region. This rapid expansion has also led to increased awareness among health care professionals of the need to prevent hospital-acquired infections.

According to John Hassett, IIR Middle East exhibitions director, health-care division, the organizers of the congress: “Hospital acquired infections such as Methicyllin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), are often referred to as “Superbugs” and pose a serious health risk to both hospitalised patients and the community.

“These bacteria are a cause for major concern in even the most sophisticated countries and health care facilities in the modern and developing world as they cause serious infections such as surgical wound infections and pneumonia and are resistant to ordinary antibiotics.”

Cross infections and “Superbugs” have become a major issue in other parts of the world. Britain, for example, has been labelled the “MRSA capital of Europe” with an estimated 5,000 people dying every year due to infections picked up in hospitals, the majority of which are thought to be caused by MRSA.

Events like the patient safety congress will offer an opportunity to share and implement best practices regarding infection control policies. The UAE Ministry of Health has a dedicated infection control office to monitor and follow up on any hospital acquired infection.

MRSA is a bacterium that is commonly and harmlessly carried on the skin or in the noses of healthy people. It is one of the commonest causes of minor skin infections such as pimples and boils and can easily be treated without antibiotics or through the use of mild medications.

Hospital environments render patients particularly susceptible to “Superbug” infections for a variety of reasons, among these is the high level of close interpersonal contact, the lack of careful hand washing by doctors, nurses and therapists, the density of people in hospital beds at any given time and the diversity of infections these patients may have.

Severe infection usually develops in more vulnerable sectors of the community such as people who are hospitalised for long periods, intensive care patients, the elderly and the frail. Patients with open wounds such as bedsores and burns, those with in-situ tubes such as urinary and intravenous (IV) catheters and stomas, post-surgery patients and those taking extended courses of broad spectrum antibiotics have a far greater risk of contracting MRSA infections.

While MRSA mainly affects hospitalised patients, it can also cause illness in the outside community and is often associated with recent antibiotic use, sharing contaminated items, having active skin diseases and living in overcrowded conditions.

The congress brings together the world’s leading authorities on infection control including Moira Walker, Honorary Secretary of the International Federation of Infection Control; Robert Spence, Chairman, Hospital Infection Society, UK; and Professor Ossama Rasslan, Director International Federation of Infection Control, and a number of noted regional experts.

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