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Towards lower MRSA infection rates

The larger and busier an NHS hospital is, the higher the MRSA infection rate, research from the Nottingham University Business School has revealed.

The impact of risk management standards on the frequency of MRSA infections in NHS hospitals study looked at how demanding risk management standards imposed by hospital insurers, and the premium discounts offered if these rigorous standards are met, could reduce MRSA infection rates.

Institutions with the highest number of bed-days and riskier treatments, particularly surgery and gynaecology, have an increased liklihood of infection. But financial incentives could play a role in controlling MRSA infection rates, potentially slashing the incidence of infection by 11–20%, the study shows.

MRSA infection costs the NHS £1bn in terms of prevention, compensation payments and additional treatment. Deaths involving MRSA rose from 51 in 1993 to 1,629 in 2005.

The standards are increasingly demanding and if they can demonstrate compliance with them, hospitals are granted increasing discounts on the premiums they pay the NHSLA for their cover. Professor Paul Fenn, of Norwich Union Insurance Studies in Nottingham University, said: “Our research has demonstrated that hospital management has responded to financial incentives by adopting higher risk management standards and where this happens patient safety tends to improve.”