Staphylococcus aureus: a review of the literature

Authors

  • DINAH GOULD BSc, MPhil, PhD, RGN, RNT,

    1. Lecturer, Department of Nursing Studies, King's College, Cornwall House Annex, Waterloo Road, London SE1 8TX, UK
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  • ANGELA CHAMBERLAINE RGN

    1. Research Assistant, Department of Nursing Studies, King's College, Cornwall House Annex, Waterloo Road, London SE1 8TX, UK
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Summary

  • Staphylococcus aureus has a long association with nosocomial infection. Problems date from the 1950s, although methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) did not emerge until the following decade.
  • Initially the pathogenicity of antibiotic-resistant strains was underestimated, and is still sometimes questioned, but today most authorities consider MRSA a serious threat, especially given current preoccupation with cost-effectiveness within the health service: nosocomial infection is associated with increased expenditure and may be regarded as a hallmark of indifferent nursing and medical care.
  • This review documents the emergence of MRSA and recognition of the ensuing problems throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, with suggestions for nursing activities which could contribute towards improved control.
  • Lessons learnt during outbreaks are seen to be of value, but there is also a need for staff at ward level to review routine practice continually so that awareness of activities likely to result in cross-infection is maintained. The use of protective clothing emerges as less important than handwashing, which may be periodically audited to maintain standards.

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