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Sunday, 01 March 2015

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North Cumbrian hospitals in breach of superbug targets

North Cumbria has breached its annual target for the number of cases of a hospital superbug for the current year.

Hospital wash hands campaign photo
Chris Platton, right and nurse Kerri Slack

There have been a total of 53 cases post-48 hour C.difficile reported in the hospitals operated by North Cumbria University Hospital Trust since the beginning of last April.

The trust, which runs the Cumberland Infirmary, in Carlisle, and the West Cumberland Hospital, in Whitehaven, had a target of no more than 40 cases of the superbug by the end of this month.

Members of the trust board heard that there had been significant increases in cases since December – four cases in January, five cases in February and there have been three cases so far this month.

A previous report stated that there were 12 cases in December alone and of these, nine were at the infirmary and three in Whitehaven.

Chris Platton, the acting director of nursing and quality, told members that the target set for the next 12 months was 29 cases of the infection. She said: “We have breached our C.diff target.”

She added that key actions had been identified and staff would be consulted on an action plan.

Key actions identified related to the following areas:

  • Antibiotic prescribing and management and non compliance with protocols
  • An audit of compliance throughout all departments
  • Root cause analysis
  • Raising the profile of antimicrobal prescribing across the trust
  • Monitoring overall antibiotic use across the trust
  • Improved cleaning standards.

According to Mrs Platton’s report a sub group has been established and the root cause analysis of all cases reviewed to establish the main drivers behind the infections.

The hospitals have invested in technology – already in use by Northumbria Healthcare, who are in the process of acquiring the north Cumbrian trust – as well as piloting chemicals which are said to be more effective in removing C.difficile.

Following an increase in the numbers of hospital superbug cases at the Cumberland Infirmary in July, which were linked to Elm A and Elm C, an infection prevention team increased surveillance.

The report had estimated that there would be a total of 54 cases by the end of the financial year and to beat next year’s target of 29 a monthly rate of two cases has been set.

However it states that there is a “significant risk” of this being breached during the first quarter.


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