Just one day after Episode One of this tragedy series, one of my faithful readers told me about a target so ridiculous that it would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious.
During a hospital training session, those attending were informed that their NHS trust has a target of 2 MRSA cases this year. The trainer followed this up by saying, “We’ve already had 2, so that’s it, we can’t have any more”.
This means that they AIM for 2 cases of MRSA per year. It means that 2 cases per year is acceptable. It means that 2 cases per year is in the plan. It means that management can relax if ‘only’ 2 patients contract this horrible disease this year because the target will have been achieved. How strange.
These targets are like the train company in my previous post aiming for 10% of trains to be late. It’s akin to public satisfaction targets that aim for 12% of people to be dissatisfied, or crime detection rates that aim for 50% of crime to remain undetected. Think about it.
And this isn’t a case of misunderstood or misreported facts either. If you Google ‘MRSA targets’ you can see them for yourself. Here’s one:
(It’s on page 2 of the document if you care to look).
Why 8? Or why 2? Why does the counter reset back to zero after 365 days (or 366 days if it’s a leap year)? As ever, these targets are completely arbitrary and do nothing to actually prevent MRSA.
How about this for an alternative approach – aim to totally prevent MRSA in hospitals (i.e. a ‘target’ of zero). Surely that’s what everyone really wants. If, for whatever reason, cases still occur, then use real measures to find out why, and take additional steps to tackle known causes.
MRSA ignores targets, as do all forms of data. If you do the right thing, the figures look after themselves.