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Nurse shortages linked to MRSA spread

A shortage of trained nurses increases the risk of patients catching the MRSA superbug, according to a study of intensive care units.

A five-month study of an eight-bed intensive care ward found nurse shortages to be one factor linked to an increased risk of MRSA.

The research, which was presented to the Intensive Care Society, also highlighted poor hygiene as a major reason behind the spread of MRSA.

Dr Stephanie Dancer, a consultant microbiologist who conducted the study, expressed surprise at the findings, stating: "These results show that MRSA acquisition is caused by the culmination of a number of different factors.

"In this study, understaffing was a significant factor, exacerbated by poor ward hygiene and further studies are required to explore this in more detail."

"It is assumed that when nurses are particularly busy due to understaffing, they do not have time to wash their hands," she added.

Out of the 174 patients observed by the study seven per cent contracted MRSA over seven of the 23 weeks.

The intensive care unit had a shortage of trained nurses in six out of the seven weeks.


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