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345 Die In UK Hospitals – Poor Sanitation

From the UK’s Independent:

Clostridium difficile bacterium

Horrific state of hospitals blamed for lethal bug outbreak which killed 345

By Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor

Published: 11 October 2007

Three hospitals in Kent were so decrepit, overcrowded, understaffed and badly managed that when a lethal bacterial infection took hold it spread unchecked, causing death and disease on an unprecedented scale.

An investigation found that more than 1,100 patients were infected with the Clostridium difficile bacterium at the hospitals between April 2004 and September 2006 which directly caused the deaths of 90 of them. In all it contributed to the deaths of 345 people.

It is the worst outbreak of the bacterium recorded by the Healthcare Commission, the Government’s NHS watchdog, whose report on the hospitals run by the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust is published today. The affected hospitals were the Maidstone Hospital with 738 cases, Kent and Sussex Hospital (353 cases) and Pembury Hospital (85 cases).

Mainly affecting elderly patients, C. difficile causes diarrhoea, dehydration, inflammation of the gut and death. It is highly contagious and can be spread on hands, bedclothes and furniture. Yet infected patients who begged for commodes were told by overstretched nurses to “go in the bed”, because it was less time-consuming than helping them to the lavatory. The report criticised lack of hygiene involving lavatories, commodes and walking frames.

C. difficile bacterium first came to national attention through an outbreak at Stoke Mandeville hospital in Buckinghamshire – revealed by The Independent in June 2005 – where 334 patients were infected and 33 had died over the previous two years.

An investigation by the Healthcare Commission, published in June 2006, blamed “serious failings” by senior managers who gave priority to government targets and control of their finances and ignored warnings from infection control specialists

Is this the shape of things to come?

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, October 11th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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