Clostridium Difficile infection rates at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay at their lowest in 18 years

Royal Lancaster Infirmary.
Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust has recently seen its longest period since the Trust was formed 18 years ago of being Clostridium difficile (C diff) infection-free.

The Trust was C diff free for 49 days which is an impressive result and makes a great contribution towards the Trust’s aim of providing harm-free care and reducing avoidable health-care associated infections.

The C diff infection is a bacterial infection that can affect the digestive system. It most commonly affects people who have been treated with antibiotics.

The symptoms of a C. diff infection can be mild or severe and include Diarrhoea, a high temperature (fever) of above 38ºC (100.4ºF) and painful abdominal cramps.

A C diff infection can lead to life-threatening complications such as severe swelling of the bowel from a build-up of gas (toxic megacolon).

Spores of the C diff bacteria can be passed out of the human body in faeces (stools) and can survive for many weeks, sometimes months, on objects and surfaces. If you touch a contaminated object or surface and then touch your mouth or nose, you can ingest the bacteria. The C diff bacteria do not usually cause problems in healthy people. However, some antibiotics can interfere with the natural balance of normal bacteria in the gut that protects against C diff infection. When this happens, C diff bacteria can multiply and produce toxins (poisons) that cause symptoms such as diarrhoea.

Angela Richards, Infection Control and Prevention Matron at the Trust said: “February 2015 saw our first ever C diff free month in recent memory.

“This is significant in our strive to reduce avoidable harm and is testament to the great work of all staff across the Trust. The highly visibly prevention and control team are working closely with clinicians, estates and facilities in supporting safe clean care across our hospitals”.

Sue Smith, Executive Chief Nurse at the Trust said: “I am delighted that we have just seen our longest period of being C diff infection free.

“I’d like to congratulate our Infection Prevention and Control Matron, Angela Richards and her team and all our front-line staff for achieving such a great result. This is superb news for our Trust and shows that we are listening to and taking on board, previous Care Quality Commission recommendations.

“Our work to keep our hospitals infection-free continues on a daily basis but we still need the help of all our patients, visitors and staff to keep it this way.

“All visitors, patients and staff are reminded and encouraged to wash their hands on entering and leaving our hospitals, especially when visiting wards by using soap and water or by using the free alcohol hand gel provided.

“I’d also like to remind visitors not sit on the beds when they’re visiting family and friends and to please use the chairs provided.

“Please do not bring any flowers, plant or food onto the wards. If you wish to send a patient flowers, please wait until they return home to do this.

“Finally, I would ask that you do not visit any of our hospitals if you have a cold, infection or stomach upset or you have suffered from diarrhoea or vomiting until you have been symptom free for at least 48 hours.”