My local hospital boasts a zero infection rate for MRSA. They continued to do so when they had at least one case – me.
I could have picked up the MRSA I was told about today in the hospital in March-April. I was in for 6 weeks, they tested me on admission (negative), but not on discharge (thus maintaining their zero MRSA record without actually knowing if the claim was valid or not – this, of course, applied to all patients, not just me).
Then, in August, I was dragged back in, unconscious, and this time tested positive on admission.
That infection could have come from the District Nurses, or from the hospital in March-April where, after being tested, I was in close proximity to a veritable horde of potentially infections people. No way of knowing, but until hospitals start routinely testing patients on discharge the true MRSA status will never be known. Nor, if people come in clean and are discharged infected, will MRSA ever be eradicated. After all, while there in March-April I contracted 5 hospital-acquired respiratory infections, so the possibility of also picking up MRSA isn’t that much of a reach.
The visitors could bring it in – they don’t get tested, not even on a random basis – as could the staff. I have no idea if staff are routinely tested, but I’d certainly hope so. But even if they’re tested every week – unlikely on the grounds of cost and sheer volume – the potential for infecting patients is still high. Which is why I say patients should be tested on discharge if a clear picture of the rate of hospital-acquired MRSA is to be obtained.