[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 26 August 2005, 16:14 GMT 17:14 UK
Hospital bug under the spotlight

Marcus Wraight, South West health reporter

The bug was linked with 13 deaths at the RD&E in June
Jackie Finch's father Bill Miller died in a unit on the site of the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital earlier this year.

She says she saw him "wasting away to nothing" before he died of the infection clostridium difficile.

"I felt we were helplessly watching him slip away and we could do nothing about it," she said.

His death certificate does not mention c. difficile, but she says she is sure it was a contributory factor in his death.

Officials said another 10 patients died with it in their system.

A spokeswoman for Exeter Primary Care Trust, which ran the unit Bill Miller was on, said in a statement: "I would like to extend my sympathies to Jackie Finch and extend an invitation to the family to contact us directly if they would like to discuss infection control in greater detail."

The trust said it took the issue "very seriously".

Position in DoH table of trusts with highest rates in 2004
18. Taunton and Somerset NHS Trust
21. Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust here
27. South Devon Healthcare NHS Trust
39. West Dorset General Hospitals NHS Trust
The bug was a little-known infection until June when it was linked with 13 deaths at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.

Judy Potter, head of infection control at the RD & E, said: "Doctors have become very good at prudent anti-biotic prescribing now because that predisposes patients to this infection.

"We opened an isolation ward and concentrated on the environment of the hospital, as well as making sure people are washing their hands."

She said rates of clostridium difficile there were now lower than they were at this time last year.

On Friday, for the first time, figures showing the extent of this infection the region's other hospitals are revealed by the Department of Health.

It is the first time mandatory surveillance of the diarrhoea-causing infection has been undertaken.

For the most vulnerable patients - who are over 65 - they show that of all of the South West's hospitals in Devon, Cornwall, west Somerset and west Dorset, four are ranked among the 40 of the UK's 110 general acute trusts.

Because individual hospitals differ in size, they are compared by a standard measure of the number of cases per 1,000 bed days.

Taunton and Somerset NHS Trust, which runs Musgrove Park Hospital, is the worst in the South West - being 18th on the list of 110 acute general hospitals.

Different ranking

The Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital is slightly better at 21st, although the figures are for 2004 - before the recent outbreak.

South Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs Torbay Hospital, is 27th, and West Dorset General Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Dorset County Hospital, was 39th.

The region's biggest hospital, Derriford in Plymouth, is ranked differently because it is a specialist hospital.

But like the Royal Cornwall Hospital and North Devon Hospital, they came out better and were with other trusts that had lower rates of infection.


SEE ALSO:
The bugs hitting NHS wards
23 Jun 05 |  Health
Rapid diarrhoea test developed
18 Feb 04 |  Health
Controlling hospital infection
21 Jan 02 |  Health


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific