Rise in bug cases could lead to fines

By Connie Osborne Friday 14 December 2012 Updated: 14/12 10:14

A SURGE in the number of cases of a hospital superbug could result in multi-million pound fines.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust could have to pay up to £450,000 for each case of Clostridium Difficile which goes over a set annual target.

As of November 20, the Trust reported 59 cases of the infection against its target of 52 for the 12 months to April 2013. Eight of those cases were identified last month alone.

The bug, which causes severe diarrhoea and other intestinal problems, can be passed from patient to patient or develops when competing bacteria in the gut is destroyed by antibiotics.

Hospital bosses are now introducing a number of measures to improve the situation including extra monitoring of cleaning, decontamination using hydrogen peroxide vapour along with screenings and an independent review of C Diff prevention.

Prof Julian Bion, associate non-executive director for Worcestershire Acute Hospital Trust, said the increase was a result of a rise in emergency admissions.

"The Trust has been doing everything possible to try and contain, and prevent C Diff infection," he said.

"It's not possible to get rid of it completely but we can see where it would start to come down."

Despite the rise, overall the number of cases in Worcestershire's hospitals have dropped by over 67 per cent since April 2008.

Chief nursing officer Helen Blanchard, added: "At present there is only a small number. There are more hospitals with much higher rates. Three per cent of the adult population carry it and if you look for it you will find it."

Chief executive Penny Venables said they were concerned about the potential fine but they were working with commissioners to secure the best outcome for patients.

"The judgement as to whether or not to apply a fine rests solely with the Trust’s commissioners, and should be seen as a lever to drive improvement," she said.

"In the event that a fine is levied, it is assumed the significant efforts being made by both the Trust and the wider health economy to reduce the levels of C.difficile will be sufficient for any withheld monies to be released at the year end."

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