Hospitals in Hartlepool and Stockton ramp up efforts to tackle dangerous superbug

The University Hospital of Hartlepool
The University Hospital of Hartlepool

NEW measures have been introduced by hospital bosses to try and manage a dangerous superbug.

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust reported four cases of the bug C Difficile picked up by patients within the trust in August.

It put the trust one case over its target of 16 cases for April to August.

The hospital trust has been set a target of having no more than 40 cases of the bug, which can prove fatal in the elderly and vulnerable, for the year.

There were also 11 cases of C Difficile picked up by people in community settings, such as a care home, in August.

Since June the trust’s Infection Prevention and Control Team have been following up C Difficile patients by ringing them up one week and 30 days after they have been discharged from hospital.

The process had been in place for some time for care home residents but it has now been extended to patients in their own homes as well to try and keep on top of the disease.

Sue Smith, the trust’s director of nursing, patient safety and quality said in a report presented to the last trust board meeting: “The purpose of the follow up is to provide some support for the patients but also to provide a means of escalation if the symptoms have recurred with the intention of preventing readmission if at all possible.

“It is important that all healthcare providers and commissioners work together to reduce the burden of clostridium Difficile in order for reduction of this infection to be effective.”

Symptoms of the C Difficile include diarrhoea, fever and abdominal cramps but antibiotics do not always work.

Hospital chiefs are also working with neighbouring trusts to share best practice.

New patient cards are also being developed to document the risk of C Difficile infection in patients who have had the bug previously encouraging them to share the information with any healthcare workers they come into contact with.

It aims to prompt healthcare workers to make more informed decisions about prescribing and treating patients most at risk.