Superbug screening

Researchers warned that Scottish hospitals are at risk of a new potentially deadly superbug outbreak unless attitudes towards vital screening change.

GCU’s Safeguarding Health through Infection Prevention (SHIP) research group discovered a lack of education and awareness among health professionals and the public about the threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria Carbapenemase Producing Enterobacteriaceae (CPE), sparking calls for urgent action.

Professor Kay Currie led the first study of its kind into the acceptability and perceptions of CPE screening. Hundreds of nursing staff and members of the public were questioned to find out what they knew about CPE and the acceptability of rectal swabs - the best way to detect the bacteria.

More than 30 per cent of nurses surveyed were unaware of the emerging risk of CPE and the same number thought that taking rectal swabs from patients was unacceptable.

Almost 70 per cent of nurses quizzed thought the public would be embarrassed by a rectal swab and around 74 per cent said they would ask patients to do the test themselves despite the fact this method may be unreliable.

The findings triggered calls for heightened awareness of CPE and screening and NHS Education for Scotland is developing new online educational resources for nurses to help them understand that the public is not as embarrassed by the rectal swab test as they think.

WHO has identified CPE as a growing challenge in the fight against antibiotic-resistant infections with predictions of epidemics in the USA, India and Greece.