Essex: Fight back against c-difficile infection after rise in cases


- Credit: IAN BURT

HEALTH bosses have launched a fight back after a spike in cases of a potentially-fatal bacterial infection.

Figures show the number of clostridium difficile cases at North East Essex PCT - - due to be taken over the North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group - are on course to rise by 20% in 2012/13.

There were 38 cases between April and September last year, the latest period for which statistics are available.

North East Essex had 60 cases of c-difficile in 2011/12; the Department of Health target is 58 a year.

The bug can cause no symptoms at all, mild or severe diarrhoea, or in some cases severe inflammation of the bowel, which can be life-threatening.

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Rachel Fahie, chief officer at Age UK Colchester, said: “It sounds like they have got a good system in place and a handle on it, but it’s a worry there’s been such an increase.

“If people go into hospital for an operation and get an infection, it’s not very satisfactory.

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“I think it’s a cause of concern if the numbers are up so much.”

Lisa Llewelyn, director of nursing and clinical quality at North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Our ceiling figures for healthcare acquired infections such as c-difficile and MRSA are set by the Department of Health. They are very challenging and cover infections acquired in hospitals and in the community.

“We keep a careful and constant watch on reported cases and each case undergoes a thorough route cause analysis. Mindful that our c-difficile figures were becoming higher than they should be, in October an action plan was agreed by an expert panel comprising representatives from hospital, community and commissioning services.”

“As part of the plan, monthly audits are being carried out involving GPs, hospital and community health staff.

“An important message to relay is that prevention of healthcare acquired infections is everyone’s responsibility. Good hand hygiene is absolutely key and I cannot stress enough the importance of regular washing of hands with soap and water.

“I would also like to remind the public that we ask them not to visit people in hospitals if they have had diarrhoea and vomiting within 48 hours prior to visiting or if they are suffering with symptoms of respiratory viruses. If they have a medical need to attend they should telephone the hospital first so appropriate plans can be made to reduce the risk of spreading infections.”

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