Working to cut superbugs at Scunthorpe General Hospital
HEALTH bosses at Scunthorpe General Hospital have moved to assure patients they are doing all they can to prevent hospital-acquired infections.
Officials have revealed they are close to exceeding the limits set for superbugs MRSA and Clostridium difficile (C diff)
Across the trust which runs the hospital there have been three cases of hospital- acquired MRSA and 33 cases of C diff since April 2012.
The limits, set by the region's Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are four cases of MRSA and 34 of C diff every year.
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Liz Scott, medical director at the Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: "We are extremely close to our limit but are working extremely hard to prevent this."
Both superbugs can be acquired in a hospital environment and can result in death.
Patients with diabetes, kidney disease or cancer have a lowered immunity as a result of their illness, putting them at greater risk of infection.
Mrs Scott said: "In January we saw six C diff cases, which is twice as many as the previous month.
"This could be due to the large amount of norovirus cases and volume of people we have seen come to A&E this winter. We are carrying out extensive reviews on each C diff case.
"There are no issues in terms of the antibiotic prescriptions but we do continue to review this very carefully.
"We have identified a lot of unavoidable cases."
To tackle the number of cases, action plans have been put in place by the trust for both infections.
Workshops have been put on for staff members to provide full training and increase awareness of C diff.
The NHS has recently been asked to collectively reduce the numbers of infections in 2012-13 on MRSA by 29 per cent and C diff by 17 per cent.
Health Minister Simon Burns said: "There has been great progress in reducing MRSA bloodstream and Clostridium difficile infections in some parts of the NHS, but we want everyone at the level of the best.
"That is why we have set each trust their own objective – to drive further improvements, particularly in the organisations with the highest rates of MRSA bloodstream and C difficile infections."
WHAT THEY ARE
CLOSTRIDIUM difficile (C diff) is a bacterial infection that can affect the digestive system. It most commonly affects people who are staying in hospital.
Spores of the C diff bacteria can be passed out of the human body in faeces and can survive for many weeks, sometimes months, on objects and surfaces.
The C diff bacteria do not usually cause any problems in healthy people. However, some antibiotics can interfere with the balance of "good" bacteria in the gut. When this happens, C diff bacteria can multiply and produce toxins (poisons), which cause symptoms such as diarrhoea.
The symptoms of C diff can range from mild to severe and include diarrhoea, a high temperature (fever) of or above 38C or painful abdominal cramps. It can also cause life-threatening complications such as severe swelling of the bowel due to a build-up of gas.
MRSA is a bacterial infection resistant to a number of widely used antibiotics. It is more common in people who are in hospital or nursing homes.
It is often carried on the skin, inside the nostrils and the throat and can cause mild infections of the skin, such as boils and impetigo.
If staph bacteria get into a break in the skin, they can cause life-threatening infections. These can include blood poisoning or endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart.