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Hospital infection death rates 'four times' official rate

The total number of deaths from infections picked up in hospital is four times higher than the government's official figure, according to MRSA support group.

The official government statistics suggest that there are around 5,000 deaths each year. However, campaigners claim that these figures are outdated and that the real number is closer to 20,000.

It is believed that nearly 50 per cent of deaths could be due to the methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus bacteria - the so-called super-bug MRSA.

Tony Field, a member of the MRSA support group, said: "The situation is far worse even than this figure because doctors are not obliged to mention MRSA on a death certificate as a secondary cause of death. There's a lot of unreporting."

He added: "The Government is in a state of denial over the whole matter and they ought to wake up and face the truth before they can get matters right."

Yet the Government denied there is complacency towards the matter and claimed that it is often difficult to establish whether MRSA is the cause of death as patients are often seriously ill with other conditions.

Meanwhile, researchers at Worcestershire firm Pharmaceutica may have found a way of making MRSA vulnerable to the antibiotics it normally resists, according to the latest study reported in the New Scientist magazine.

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