CASES of a hospital superbug are on the rise in the North, new figures have revealed.
The incidence of clostridium difficile in patients aged over 65 has increased throughout the country in the last quarter, according to figures released by the Health Protection Agency.
In the North-East, the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust had the highest rise from January to March this year, with 232 cases compared to 142 the previous quarter.
This was followed by Northumbria Health Care NHS Foundation Trust, which runs hospitals in Ashington, Hexham and North Tyneside, and which reported a rise of 61 cases to 182 from 121 the previous quarter. The rising trend was the same throughout the region except for South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust where the number dropped to 30 from 34.
Clostridium difficile – known as C diff – causes diarrhoea which can be severe and even prove fatal in some cases. Elderly patients who have been treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics are at greatest risk.
Sheila Morgan, a nurse consultant for infection prevention and control for the Newcastle Trust, said the rise reflected the seasonal outbreaks as more people are admitted to hospital during winter especially the elderly.
She said: “Although we acknowledge we have had a rise, we have got sicker people coming through the doors in greater numbers. There were seasonal outbreaks and people are admitted because they become unwell in the community.”
Dr John Sellers, consultant microbiologist at the Northumbria Trust, said: “Infection control is a top priority for the trust. We are continually working to reduce our infection rates and have recently put new measures in place to help do this.
“We now screen all patients admitted to our wards for the presence of MRSA on their skin, we have introduced extra cleaning on our wards and have developed a new antibiotic prescribing policy restricting the use of certain antibiotics.”
THE NUMBER OF C. DIFFICILE REPORTS FOR PATIENTS AGED OVER 65 YEARS FOR THE NORTH-EAST:
City Hospitals Sunderland reported a rise to 85 cases from 75 the previous quarter.
County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust had 120 cases up from 101 the previous quarter.
Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust rose to 55 from 50 cases in the last quarter.
Northumbria Health Care NHS Foundation Trust rose to 182 from 121 the previous quarter.
South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust dropped to 30 from 34.
The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals Foundation Trust rose to 232 from 142 cases.
Cases of MRSA between January and March:
City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust rose to 14 from 13.
County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust rose to 23 from 12.
Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust dropped to six from eight.
Northumbria Health Care NHS Foundation Trust rose to 17 from 12.
South Tyneside NHS Trust rose to 3 from 0.
The Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust dropped to 16 from 24.