Clostridium difficile closes hospital ward

An outbreak of Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) in a Scottish hospital is causing concern despite claims from health authorities that the outbreak is under control.

A ward has now been closed to new patients after a new case of the C. difficile bug was reported in the Glasgow hospital; four patients at the Victoria Infirmary have now tested positive for the infection.

Health authorities say patients associated with the ward were all being nursed in isolation, and none was giving cause for concern.

However reports of the new case follow claims from staff that there were delays in closing wards when patients fell ill in a fatal outbreak of C. difficile.

C. difficile has been blamed as the main cause of nine deaths at the hospital in just six months and it was a contributing factor in several further deaths.

Claims have also been made that the Vale of Leven Hospital is starved of resources.

Tom Divers, chief executive of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde says while there are limited facilities at the Vale of Leven for isolating patients, where cases needed to be transferred so that they could be treated in a single accommodation, that was done.

Mr Divers says no members of staff have, at any time, expressed a concern.

The Scottish Government has launched an independent inquiry into the cases following a review which identified 54 cases of infection between December 2007 and June this year at the hospital.

C. difficile is a bacterium that causes diarrhea and serious intestinal conditions such as colitis and is the most common infection in hospitals and long-term care facilities.

The use of antibiotics increases the chances of developing C. difficile diarrhea and while healthy people are not usually vulnerable, people who have other illnesses or conditions requiring prolonged use of antibiotics and the elderly are at greater risk of infection.

C. difficile bacteria are found in faeces and people can become infected if they touch items or surfaces that are contaminated with faeces and then touch their mouths or mucous membranes.

Health care workers can spread the bacteria to other patients or contaminate surfaces through hand contact.

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