Inquiry into the hospital acquired killer bug starts

Dr Ananya Mandal, MD

A Second World War veteran John Boyle died of Clostridium difficile infection after being admitted to hospital for the first time at the age of 90. He was diagnosed with the infection on January 25 this year and succumbed to it two weeks later. He was one of 18 patients to die at a Scottish hospital when the outbreak of this hospital-acquired infection was reported.

A total of 55 patients developed C. difficile and 18 died at the Vale of Leven in Alexandria, between December 2007 and June 2008. The Scottish health secretary Nicola Sturgeon, has ordered an inquiry into the circumstances that started in Maryhill, Glasgow, on Monday.

Clostridium difficile is one of the most serious causes of Antibiotic Associated Diarrhea (AAD) seen in patients admitted to the hospital. It has a high mortality and morbidity rate. The C. difficile bacteria, which naturally reside in the body, become overpopulated in ins infection. The overpopulation is harmful because the bacterium releases toxins that can cause bloating, constipation, and diarrhea with abdominal pain, which may become severe. Latent symptoms often mimic some flu-like symptoms. Often, it can be cured simply by discontinuing the antibiotics responsible.

Mr. Boyle in this case was admitted after suffering disorientation following a fall and was one of the nine patients who died of the infection as a direct cause. Mr. Boyle’s daughter feels that there was not enough awareness regarding the infection among the hospital staff and feels the bacteria killed her father. She said, “I don’t think the nurses knew the seriousness of the situation. They weren’t being guided. They were dealing with something that I think they never understood.” Many relatives feel similarly appalled at the fact that the hospital is still running despite the outbreak that has been on for so many months now.

The inquiry of the matter is placed before Lord MacLean, a retired judge at the Community Central Halls in Maryhill. The report is expected in May next year. Relatives and survivors are expected to continue giving evidence into next week. This will be followed by evidence from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and its staff.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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