C. diff breaks out at St Richard's Hospital

An outbreak of a stomach bug hit hospitals in Chichester and Worthing last month.

Nine patients were affected after C. difficile erupted on the wards, with seven cases reported in Worthing Hospital and two at St Richard’s Hospital.

The bacteria, which spreads easily but can be controlled with good hygiene, does not usually affect healthy people but can hit hospital patients who have recently had a course of antibiotics. The symptoms include diarrhoea, fever and cramps.

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The Western Sussex Hospitals Trust, which runs both hospitals as well as Southlands in Shoreham, said it had carried out a full analysis to find out what caused the outburst.

Of the nine cases, it found four had been unavoidable; however the five others, which were all within the surgical division in Worthing, had been the result of poor antibiotic management and delays in isolation.

“That leaves five cases where the care fell short,” Cathy Stone, the trust’s director of nursing and patient safety, told a meeting of the board last week. “As soon as we have a positive C. diff. result, patients are isolated immediately. If you can’t isolate, you manage that patient the most appropriate way.”

She stressed ‘the relentless drive’ for infection control across the three hospitals, adding: “We work very much with our bed management team on a daily, if not an hourly basis.

“It is a commitment of the board to have the correct number of single rooms so we can provide that isolation.”

After the outbreak, the nurses and microbiologists involved had all been called in for questioning.