Bosses at Burton’s Queen’s Hospital have drawn up plans to cap above-target cases of a potentially fatal superbug.
Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust acted after being hit by 11 cases of Clostridium Difficile (C-diff ) in the first half of the current financial year – almost double the target of six.
If cases continue at the existing rate, forecasts suggest the trust will exceed its agreed year-end target of 25 by at least four, or 16 per cent.
In a report to yesterday’s monthly trust board meeting, chief nurse Dawn Leese said Queen’s executive management team had agreed to take the following steps:
● Deep cleaning in areas where there appears to be linked cases – namely wards three, seven, 44, and ward eight, which had experienced an unrelated outbreak.
“This is in progress but it has to be noted the significant challenges around operational imperatives and the availability of a decant area,” the report said.
● Immediate implementation of a twohour rule for patients admitted with, or who develop, diarrhoea to be allocated to a single room while diagnosis is determined.
● Immediate prescription of food-based probiotics for treated but relapsed C-diff patients.
● A review of infection prevention and control at Queen’s by the boss of similar services at Walsall, possibly on November 22.
● Isolation and treatment of certain patients.
● Reversion to cleaning all areas with chlorine-releasing agents at a strength of 1,000 parts per million.
● Using disposable washbowls for patients.
Mrs Leese’s report said the plan had been devised after the trust contacted three similar-sized hospitals which had been successful in reducing C-diff rates.
They discovered key differences such as the prescription of food-based probiotics for all patients receiving antibiotics, and use of an isolation ward and decant facilities to allow deep cleaning.
A ‘significant reduction’ in cases at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust even prompted a site visit during which other key differences were noted.
These included using chlorine for general cleaning rather than during outbreaks, providing patients with disposable washbowls and having a designated isolation ward to manage C-diff cases.
Queen’s action plan emerged two months after Mrs Leese told fellow directors she was ‘at a loss to know what more it could do’ to tackle C-diff and another superbug, MRSA.
“The further learning will have to come from outside the organisation,” chief executive Helen Ashley said.