Clinical and emotional impact of MRSA on patients with advanced life-limiting illness

Dr Aoife Gleeson MD MSc, Consultant in Palliative Medicine, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, Wales, UK, explains the background to two longer research articles selected jointly as ‘Editor’s choice’ in the April issue of Palliative Medicine.

Aoife Gleeson

Dr Aoife Gleeson

During my specialist training in palliative medicine, I was asked to develop a policy for the management of Meticillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) in the hospice I was working in. I was aware that MRSA, as a multi-drug resistant bacterium, had been the focus of much media attention for decades and that hospitals were working hard to combat its spread. At the time, I searched the literature for evidence to guide the development of this policy but could find none. I was faced with a choice: develop a policy that resembled the kind of MRSA policy used in acute hospitals, or develop a policy that resembled one used in community hospital settings. There were significant differences between the two types of policy so I made the following decisions: Firstly, to develop an interim policy that paralleled the community hospital policy as this hospice was located within a community hospital. Additionally, I decided to look further into the issue of infection control in hospices and specialist palliative care settings.

Subsequent to this, I undertook some initial service evaluation work in another specialist palliative care unit, to gain a better understanding of clinical issues associated with MRSA. At the same time, I became aware that MRSA also caused a significant level of stress and anxiety to patients I cared for in hospice/specialist palliative care settings. Many patients and their families almost seemed more worried about MRSA than about their advanced cancer or advanced life-limiting illness diagnoses. It was hard to offer them reassurance, as there was no information available regarding the impact of MRSA on people with their conditions.

These experiences led to me developing a project to learn more about the clinical and emotional impact of MRSA on patients with advanced life-limiting illness. One of my papers focuses on the clinical impact of MRSA in a specialist palliative care setting, while the other explores the emotional impact of receiving an MRSA diagnosis on patients with advanced cancer and their family members. The research for both papers was undertaken in the Republic of Ireland. My research found that MRSA did not shorten the lives of the patients in that specialist palliative care unit and that communication is key to adequately supporting patients and their family members when living with a life-limiting illness and facing an MRSA diagnosis.

4.coverRead the full article in Palliative Medicine
This blog post relates to two longer articles, ‘Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA): Prevalence, incidence, risk factors, and effects on survival of patients in a specialist palliative care unit – A prospective observational study’ by Aoife Gleeson, Phil Larkin, Cathal Walsh and Niamh O’Sullivan. Palliat Medicine April 2016 vol. 30 (4) 374-381; DOI: 10.1177/0269216315595158, and, ‘The impact of meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus on patients with advanced cancer and their family members: A qualitative study’ by Aoife Gleeson. Phil Larkin and Niamh O’Sullivan. Palliat Medicine April 2016 vol. 30 (4) 382-391; DOI: 10.1177/0269216315622125.

Download your FREE copies of both articles here.
Click here to download ‘The impact of meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus on patients with advanced cancer and their family members: A qualitative study’.

Click here to download ‘Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA): Prevalence, incidence, risk factors, and effects on survival of patients in a specialist palliative care unit – A prospective observational study’.

How to download previously published ‘Editor’s choice’ articles
EAPC members and registered users of the EAPC website can download all ‘Editor’s choice’ papers free of charge from the EAPC website but you will need to register or login first. Please follow the instructions in the top right-hand corner of the EAPC home page and scroll down to the article. Click here to view other EAPC-originated papers.

This entry was posted in EAPC-LINKED JOURNALS, Medicine, Palliative Medicine: Editor's Choice, RESEARCH and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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