If you consider that MRSA causes meningitis, pneumonia and toxic shock syndrome and is scary, we have other nasty bacteria in our hospitals; E. Coli cases up by 48% in 2007; Clostridium difficile showing a 72% rise in 2007 with over 5,000 deaths attributed to it; Klebsiella pneumoniae 5,198 cases hitting and killing people who have underlying lung problems (causes abscesses in the lungs); Streptococcus pneumoniae 4,553 cases and 14,943 cases of Coagulase negative staphylococcus causing bloodstream infections. In the USA, C. difficile was responsible for 18,650 deaths last year and now exceeds AIDs deaths there. What are the real risks today in the UK concerning acquiring a serious hospital infection? High , is the probable answer.
The historical period of effective anti-biotics has perhaps now passed after 50 years and we need to re-institute simple Victorian inspired hygiene measures that lapsed because we had the anti-biotics to sort out problems caused by slack hygiene. Anyone who remembers a hospital stay in the early 1950s will recall deep cleaning by nurses as a constant activity on a ward; restricted visitors and very limited and short visiting times and a clinically spotless and uncluttered ward environment. Today, the modern hospital has people strolling in at all hours, clutter everywhere and staff being 'urged' to wash their hands and a 're-education' programme of NHS staff in full swing. The public is even being bombarded with adverts to 'wash hands'!
Does anyone remember 'no spitting' signs as a simple anti-TB hygiene measure and yet spitting is now endemic and not helped by football players, in particular,spitting all over our TV screens. TB is now on the increase, having been almost eradicated in this country. In terms of public hygiene, it seems we need to return to the days before anti-biotics became the miracle cure of bacterial infections; those days are now past.