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Paul Thomson
Paul Thomson
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Norwegian Infection Control Methods Worth Replicating

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An article posted on Sphere.com discussed Norway’s unusual method of virtually eliminating the dangerous staph infection: limiting the use of antibiotics. The staph infection, caused by Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), has killed tens of thousands of patients in the most technologically advanced hospitals in Europe, North America, and Asia. In the U.S. alone, about 19,000 patients die each year–that’s more than from AIDS! 

Norwegian medical professional, Jan Hendrik-Binder, says, "It’s a very sad situation that in some places so many are dying from this, because we have shown here in Norway that Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) can be controlled, and with not too much effort…But you have to take it seriously, you have to give it attention, and you must not give up." 

The simple strategies that eliminate MRSA include prescribing fewer antibiotics, limiting the chance for people to develop resistance, and isolating patients with MRSA. Medical staff who test positive for MRSA must stay at home. Also, "Doctors track each case of MRSA by its individual strain, interviewing patients about where they’ve been and who they’ve been with, testing anyone who has been in contact with them," the article explains. 

Norwegians also have a different attitude towards illness and medication. "Norwegians are sanguine about their coughs and colds, toughing it out through low-grade infections…Convenience stores in downtown Oslo are stocked with an amazing and colorful array…of soothing, but non-medicated, lozenges, sprays and tablets. All workers are paid on days they, or their children, stay home sick. And drug makers aren’t allowed to advertise, reducing patient demands for prescription drugs." The country’s hospitals use medications that are considered obsolete in most countries and they don’t even allow stronger, more modern drugs. 

As cases of staff infection rise and more people continue to die from MRSA, some hospitals have begun to adapt to Norway’s methods. A hospital in Kings Lynn, 100 miles outside of London, had success with the program, as well as hospitals in Pittsburg and Japan. The programs have been so successful that some have even seen the number of infections decrease by 80 percent. Doctors who have witnesses the reliability of the methods in decreasing MRSA issues are angry that other hospitals do not follow suit. It’s heartbreaking that so many people are dying unnecessarily! Many criticize the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an agency that makes recommendations to hospitals, for not promoting Norway’s methods. Dr. Barry Farr, a retired epidemiologist who witnesses a successful MRSA control program at the University of Virginia that took place 30 years ago summed up the situation well when he said, "The CDC needs to ‘eat a little crow and say, ‘Yeah, it does work…There’s example after example. We don’t need another study. We need somebody to just do the right thing.’"