Family's tribute to C-diff victim

THE family of a pensioner who died after contracting Clostridium difficile (C-diff) following routine surgery at Ipswich Hospital have paid tribute to a “loving, compassionate and caring person.

Lizzie Parry

THE family of a pensioner who died after contracting Clostridium difficile (C-diff) following routine surgery at Ipswich Hospital have paid tribute to a “loving, compassionate and caring person.”

Daphne Fairweather, 77, from Ipswich, is believed to have been one of the first people to die in a Suffolk hospital as a result of the infection.

Yesterday, her family told of their shock at the tragedy after expecting her to be in hospital for just a week after the operation in September last year.


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Mrs Fairweather's son, who asked not to be named, said: “It was a shock to everyone when she died we all thought she was going in for a routine procedure but sadly it wasn't to be.

“Her first operation went quite well, it was a routine operation, not without risk but routine, she was in the early stages of the disease.

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“After that operation she took a turn for the worse and developed complications.

“She had a second operation a few days later and following that she was taken into intensive care and into an isolation room. I asked the question why she was in the isolation room and we were told she had tested positive for the infection C-diff.”

Initially Mrs Fairweather's death certificate made no reference to the infection C-diff, it was only when the family made enquiries that the hospital obliged and included it on the form.

Jan Rowsell, Ipswich Hospital spokeswoman, said: “We again extend our sympathies to the family of Mrs Fairweather.

“The family asked us to list C-diff on the death certificate so obviously we took on board what they asked of us.

“In the 14 months since then the picture of infection control at the hospital has transformed.”

At an inquest into Mrs Fairweather's death last week, Greater Suffolk coroner Peter Dean said she had undergone a necessary operation for bowel cancer at the hospital but had encountered complications, recording a death from the infection.

But Mrs Fairweather's family extended their thanks for the “excellent” care she received in the time she spent at Ipswich Hospital.

Her son added: “The staff at Ipswich Hospital were wonderful, we couldn't have wished for better care. “All the doctors and nursing staff, especially those in intensive care did a great job looking after her.

“They did everything they could to try to cure her.

“We are relieved to have the coroner's verdict; it has drawn a line under it. Nothing can bring her back.

“Hopefully there have been some positives, things have changed they are more active with infection control with the hand washing campaign and the isolation ward.”

At Mrs Fairweather's inquest Dr Dean made reference to the measures taken by Ipswich Hospital to improve infection control.

He said: “They have put in place measures and are reducing the number of cases. They have responded to the problems, doing what they can to minimise C-diff.”

The extra measures recently introduced include a review of antibiotic prescribing as well as taking specialist advice from the Strategic Health Authority support team in November 2007 and March 2008.

In the tribute, Mrs Fairweather's son added: “She was extremely proud of her family. Nothing gave her greater pleasure than the time she spent with us.

“She believed that to survive in life you needed two things, love and good health, throughout her life she had these in abundance.

“She untiringly cared for her husband during his long illness up until his death from cancer in October 2006.

“She was always helping other people; she worked for a while in the restaurant at Ipswich Hospital and after she retired would always help out at the Salvation Army and old people's homes making tea and baking cakes, always helping others she was a very kind, caring lady.”

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