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New Superbug Outbreak Only Days After Deep Clean

Apr 21, 2008
The Countess Of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has had to close down some of its wards after an outbreak of the superbug Clostridium Difficile only days after a 300,000 deep clean.

A Government-backed initiative announced by Gordon Brown in September last year forced all hospitals in England to undergo an extensive deep-clean to tackle the growing problem of the antibiotic resistant superbugs, MRSA and C Difficile. The deadline for the deep clean was March 31st - however, it is thought that many hospitals in England failed to meet the deadline, with some not expected to finish until much later this year.

Criticism is growing both within the medical profession and from campaign groups who claim that the deep clean measures for English hospitals were not carried out properly, that a quick fix solution is simply not going to be effective in the long term and that action is required now to deal with the superbug problem.

C Diff is a highly infectious bacterium related to Tetanus and Botulism that naturally occurs in the gut of some people. However, when the natural balance of the bacteria is upset - for example, after a course of antibiotics - then the bacteria can multiply and become dangerous.

It is thought that around 10% of all patients entering hospitals will acquire C. Diff after only a short stay. For most people the bacteria only causes mild diarrhoea; unfortunately for some high-risk groups - the very young, the elderly, or those with impaired immunity (e.g. following surgery) - C Diff can lead to other diseases, severe dehydration and even death.

The biggest problem with C Diff is that it is resistant to some antibiotics so treatment is very difficult - treatment requires early identification and prescription of an antibiotic that is effective against C Diff such as Metronidazole or Vancomycin.

A second problem is that C Difficile can last outside the body for long periods of time - sometimes up to 2 months. C Difficile spores are frequently found in hospitals often on "hard to clean" areas such as furniture, toilet seats, jewellery and telephones and can also be brought in by staff, visitors and patients themselves. That makes eliminating the spores extremely difficult. The only effective way of reducing levels of infections is a proactive and thorough cleaning regime, including steam cleaning.

If you or one of your family has been affected by C Diff you may be able to make a claim against the NHS Trust responsible for your hospital treatment. If the hospital has been negligent in its responsibilities then you may be able to receive compensation.

The main factors to look for are whether the hospital was clean and hygienic and implemented "best practice" regarding hygiene and cleanliness during your or your family member's stay in hospital. It's also worth establishing whether any patients you encountered at the hospital were showing symptoms, and whether they were isolated correctly to prevent further spread of C Diff.

If you feel that the hospital did not follow correct procedure in any of these areas then it's worth talking to a professional medical negligence claims expert. They will be able to help you establish whether you have a case.

For further information, please visit http://www.1stclaims.co.uk.
About the Author
We deal in a range of claims, including medical negligence and compensation. For further information, please visit http://www.1stclaims.co.uk.
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