NHS Lothian cuts c diff infections

 NHS LOTHIAN has cut clostridium difficile infections by a third in recent months, according to the latest available figures.

Changes to prescribing and cleaning arrangements are credited with reducing the number of c diff cases recorded in October this year by 33% compared to the month of August.

There were 61 new cases of the infection recorded in both hospitals and community facilities in Lothian in October. This compares with 91 in August.

NHS Lothian has achieved a marked downward trend when comparing the number of cases in the quarter July – September 2008 with the same period in 2007. There has been a decrease of a quarter (25%) in the last year from 306 cases in that quarter in 2007 to 231 cases in the same time period this year.

The reduction was revealed in a report discussed at the public November meeting of Lothian NHS Board today (Wednesday, 26th November)

Dr Alison McCallum, Director of Public Health and Health Policy, NHS Lothian, said:


“We have put a number of measures in place and these are clearly having a positive effect in preventing these infections, which are widespread in the community.
“We are now planning the creation of a formal team of experts who will be asked to take the lessons we’ve learned from a number of successful pilots and ensure every part of NHS Lothian’s services implements these solutions as necessary.”
Elderly patients, already extremely ill with other existing conditions and illnesses are thought to be most susceptible to catching c diff. Patients who have been treated with broad spectrum antibiotics (those that affect a wide range of bacteria, including intestinal bacteria) are at greatest risk. People over the age of 60 spent just under a million days and nights in NHS Lothian’s hospitals in 2006-7.
C diff is mostly found in people who are already unwell but it is carried in the gut of some healthy adults.
The vast majority of people who develop c diff recover from the infection well with no long term effects.


Dr McCallum added:
“We are continually highlighting to staff and visitors the importance of washing hands to try to ensure that these infections, which are prevalent in the community, are not brought into hospitals, and our hospitals are regularly given top marks for cleanliness in independent checks.”