The only MRSA-free hospital in Austria?

The “Vienna North Hospital”, one of the largest and most modern hospitals in Europe, opened in June 2019. A few months before the opening, an Open House was hosted – flanked by a lot of postings and readers‘ letters online and in the media. Among them was a very provocative one titled “The only MRSA-free hospital in Austria – but for how long?”

The “Vienna North Hospital” has been subject of heated debates for years. Obscure money-flows and construction faults were dominant themes – which is generally quite common in the face of giant construction projects.

A reader of a newspaper has posted recently: “The only MRSA-free hospital in Austria – but for how long? Finally, Vienna has a hospital where so far no one has been infected with the deadly hospital germ MRSA, where no patient has undergone numerous operations that ultimately lead to amputation or death.”

Of course, the readers’ opinion sounds a bit over the top – especially since not every MRSA infection inevitably leads to death – but the bitter tone of this message is somehow moving. Unfortunately, it was not possible to figure out who the poster was. Instead, we tried to find a person to share their personal experience with MRSA. No easy task, thanks to the support of Dr Dirk Hellekes (Hospital Rudolfstiftung), his former patient Mr. Peter Hausmann (name changed by the editor) was willing to meet, but emphasized that he wanted to remain anonymous. When asking about what went through his mind when he was diagnosed with MRSA, he said that the infection occurred in the course of a small procedure on his veins. The shock was correspondingly large. Due to the high standards of hygiene in the hospital – rapid diagnosis, proper antibiotic management and adequate rules of conduct for the home the wound healed. His first thoughts, however, were terrible, because Mr. Haussmann had already heard about MRSA – in 2017 the well-known Austrian ex-footballer Ernst Ogris died because of an MRSA infection. He states: “Fears are coming up quickly.” He was lucky enough to overcome his infection, but every year many patients are infected or die even due to an MRSA infection. Unfortunately, no statistically significant data exists, is not recorded or, at best, extrapolated.

MRSA is a huge issue, and we should look at other countries such as Germany or the Netherlands where a reporting obligation already exists and make every additional effort (mandatory reporting system, screenings, sophisticated antibiotic management etc.) to move into this direction: Maybe that would bring us a bit closer to the reader’s request!