NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 12, 2007

Appalling hygiene, a shortage of nursing and unacceptable management at the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust contributed to outbreaks of C. difficile -- a hospital superbug -- according to a report by the British watchdog organization, the Healthcare Commission.

According to the commission:

  • There were 1,176 cases of C. difficile - with its main symptom of severe diarrhea -- during outbreaks between 2004 and 2006.
  • About 90 patients had died as a result of the outbreak.

The commission also found that on several occasions nurses had told patients to "go in their beds" rather than helping patients with diarrhea to get to a bathroom.  Some patients were left for hours in wet or soiled sheets.  Patients with the bug were moved between wards and trust managers had failed to set up special isolation areas for them.  The commission blamed a focus on meeting government targets for emergency admissions.

"The clinical management of C. difficile infection in the majority of the patients fell short of an acceptable standard in at least one aspect of basic care," the report's authors said. "Some patients, who might have been expected to make a full recovery from the condition for which they were admitted, were prescribed broad spectrum antibiotics during their stay in hospital, contracted C. difficile and some died."

Source: "Hospitals superbug failures probed," Reuters UK, October 11, 2007.


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