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Honey, I shrunk your hospital stay
YOU are more likely to spread it on your toast but a nurse from Milnthorpe has been using honey in the fight against MRSA.
As part of a year-long study, patients undergoing surgery at Liverpool’s Aintree University Hospital for head and neck cancer had medical grade honey applied to their wounds in addition to regular dressings.
Dr Val Robson, who lives in Milnthorpe and commutes to Liverpool, led the trial for her Professional Doctorate Study.
Dr Robson, Clinical Nurse Specialist in Wound Care at Aintree, said: “All honey has antibacterial qualities because of the high sugar content, low water content and the presence of hydrogen peroxide.”
However, Leptospermum honey, which is Manuka honey from New Zealand and Jelly Bush honey from Australia, has been shown to have long-lasting antibacterial proper-ties.
These are thought to be a result of the flora available to local bees. Dr Robson wanted to explore how this could be used to prevent infection occurring in surgical wounds.
Dr Robson approached Professor Simon Rogers, Clinical Director for the Head and Neck Unit at the hospital, and together they put their proposal to the Research and Development department, which gave the study the go ahead.
The honey, called Medihoney, was provided by Derma Sciences Europe Ltd.
During the trial period, 49 patients consented to be involved. Patients who had honey applied to their wounds had 36 per cent fewer incidents of infection and there was also a 25 per cent reduction in their average length of stay in hospital.
Aintree has reduced MRSA bloodstream infections by 80 per cent since 2008/9.
“This was a feasibility study but the early indications are positive,” said Dr Robson. “The reduction in length of stay was unexpected but means there is an opportunity to not only improve infection rates but also make significant cost savings by using honey in this way.
“We will now start exploring opportunities to conduct a much bigger trial.”