Bacteria which have developed resistance against a group of strong antibiotics, normally used to treat the most serious infections, are considered to be one of the most important global threats to public health by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Well-recognised resistant bacteria such as MRSA are now being joined by emerging organisms such as carbapenemase-producing enterobacteriaceae (CPE), a large group of types of bacteria including E. coli and Salmonella.
Screening hospital patients for antimicrobial resistant (AMR) organisms identifies those who may be carrying the bacteria and enables them to be managed appropriately to reduce cross transmission to other patients.
Dr Kay Currie, Dr Lesley Price, Professor Paul Flowers and Dr Nicola Roberts, from GCU’s Safeguarding Health through Infection Prevention research group, have received funding from the Scottish Infection Research Network, the Chief Scientist Office and Health Protection Scotland to study factors affecting the implementation and acceptability of hospital screening policies for AMR organisms.
This year-long project builds on previous work investigating the patient experience and acceptability of MRSA screening (introduced in Scotland in 2011) and will contribute to policy development to reduce the threat from antimicrobial resistant organisms in hospitals.
Health Protection Scotland has been asked by the Scottish Government Healthcare Associated Infections Policy Team to support NHS boards with the roll out and implementation of CPE screening within acute care settings. Interim guidance for the prevention of cross transmission of CPE including guidance on screening was published in June 2013.
The new GCU study will help to support the successful implementation of these screening programmes, through an evaluation of the barriers and drivers to the implementation of screening in Scottish hospitals with a focus on the current MRSA and CPE screening policies.
The study aims to include a staff and patient acceptability study of CPE screening and will provide an evidence base that can be used to develop best practice guidelines for the successful implementation of infection prevention and control measures.
Dr Currie said: “This is an important opportunity for researchers to develop evidence directly from the experience of practitioners and patients about those personal, social and organisational factors that may affect screening for antimicrobial resistant organisms. Understanding the reasons for higher or lower compliance with screening by hospital staff is important in developing policies that can be introduced most effectively in practice settings. Listening to the patient experience of infection prevention measures is crucial in providing person centred-care whilst promoting public health.”