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Progress made in war on superbug
EFFORTS to stamp out superbug Clostridium difficile (C.diff) at Worcestershire’s acute hospitals are having an impact, latest figures show.
Leaders at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust want to reduce the number of cases of the potentially deadly infection by almost 50 per cent.
While there were 80 C.diff cases in acute hospitals during 2012/13, a tough target of just 48 has been set for the current year.
The trust’s ambitions to reduce C.diff incidents got off to an unwelcome start with nine cases in April and another six in May.
But there was just one case during June and one in the first three-and-a-half weeks of July, helping to put the trust back on track.
Chief operating officer Stewart Messer said: “We had a very challenging April and May, correlating to the very high levels of emergency demand we were experiencing.
“We have set a maximum of 48 cases for the year so the fact that we have had two very good months means we are now almost back on trajectory. We are confident now that we should fall below it.”
C.diff can cause flu-like symptoms, including high temperatures, painful abdominal cramps and diarrhoea. It can also cause life-threatening complications such as severe swelling of the bowel.
The bacteria do not usually cause any problems in healthy people, however, the use of some antibiotics can interfere with the balance of ‘good’ bacteria in the gut, allowing C.diff to multiply.
C.diff infection is therefore particularly common among people staying in hospitals and is a major headache for healthcare providers.
An independent review of C.diff control measures in Worcestershire was commissioned by a county-wide task group earlier this year.
Jennie Wilson, an infection prevention and control specialist from the University of West London, praised the standards of cleanliness and monitoring in county hospitals.
But she warned local patterns of C.diff are “complex” and seemingly different from other parts of the UK, and as a result will be more difficult to stamp out.
She found that just under 50 per cent of cases in Worcestershire were in patients aged 81 or older – almost 10 per cent higher than elsewhere – and that a large majority are in people who are “regularly in-and-out of hospital”.
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