Vapour system to tackle hospital bug

Friday 02 November 2012 Updated: 05/11 10:17

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A REVOLUTIONARY system which uses an antibacterial vapour to kill germs has been brought in as the latest weapon in the fight against a hospital superbug.

Hydrogen Peroxide Vapour (HPV) has been introduced by Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust as it is in danger of breaching its target for the number of cases of Clostridium Difficile this year.

The system produces a vapour which rapidly kills all microorganisms, including spore forming bacteria which regular cleaning, no matter how vigorous, can leave behind. It can be used proactively to prevent infection or to stop outbreaks.

The move is in response to an increasing number of C Diff cases recorded in the county’s hospitals. Since April 45 cases have been reported against a target of just 52.

If the Trust goes above the number it could prove a costly problem as they will be penalised up to £450,000 for each case over the limit.

Other measures being put in place to tackle the problem include timely testing of patients with symptoms, particularly those at high risk, a greater emphasis on hand washing as well as the use of alcohol hand rub and working with GPs in the community to limit the use of antibiotics.

C Diff occurs naturally in the gut of some people and develops when competing bacteria in the gut flora has been wiped out by antibiotics. It is also passed on from patient to patient in hospital.

Despite the current rise, the number of cases of C Diff within Worcestershire’s hospitals have plummeted by 67 per cent since 2008.

Prof Julian Bion, associate non-executive director for the Trust, said they would do everything possible to limit the number of cases but it was difficult to eradicate and could not be solved by the Trust alone.

“We see this as a health economy wide problem,” he told a meeting of the Trust’s board on Wednesday (October 31).

“Worcestershire Acute Trust has improved over the years but that’s not good enough from the point of view that the Trust will exceed the maximum prescribed number set by the Strategic Health Authority, even tough I don’t think that’s rooted in any particular science.

“The end story is we want to ensure patients don’t get C Diff although it’s difficult to eradicate. It’s like turning an oil tanker, it will take time.”

Stewart Messer, the Trust’s chief operating officer, said as 96 per cent of all patients diagnosed with C Diff were emergency admissions, the increased demand for emergency care could partly explain the increase.

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