Decrease in superbug

THE number of people catching a life-threatening superbug in a Hackney hospital is falling, new figures reveal...

THE number of people catching a life-threatening superbug in a Hackney hospital is falling, new figures reveal.

Cases of patients with contagious clostridium difficile (C. diff) at Homerton University Hospital dropped to 12 for the first quarter of this year, compared to 74 for the same period 12 months ago.

The figures, released by the Health Protection Agency last week, were welcomed by hospital bosses.

"We were obviously alarmed and we had a series of emergency meetings," said Dr John Coackley, the Homerton trust's medical director.

"We have worked very hard to get it down and it's a credit to everybody working at the hospital.

"The problem of hospital superbugs is causing a lot of concern and we are very keen to keep our figures low."

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Dr Coakley said that the trust had introduced a number of measures to tackle the spread of C. diff, an infection of the intestines that normally affects older people with underlying illnesses.

A chlorine-based cleaning solution is being used on every ward in which two cases of the infection have been reported and the trust has had a "radical change" of the antibiotics it administeres to patients.

Two types of antibiotics which increase the risk of catching C.diff by killing bacteria in the gut have been scrapped.

The Health Protection Agency also revealed that the Homerton recorded 17 cases of MRSA last year, compared to 20 the previous year.

Overall, the number of C.diff cases reported in hospitals in England and Wales rose by two per cent last year. The number of cases of MRSA fell by about six per cent.

Dr Christine McCartney, who leads the agency's programme for Healthcare Associated Infections, said: "Many of these infections are preventable if hygiene and antibiotic prescribing guidelines are strictly followed by trusts.

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