Patients who test positive for the bacterial infection
Clostridium difficile (C. diff) in County Durham and Darlington,
will be given a new card to help prevent them from getting ill from
it again in the future.
The cards, which are being launched in a joint initiative
between County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, Tees,
Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust and the local Clinical
Commissioning Groups (CCGs), are designed to inform other
healthcare professionals that the patient has had a C. diff
infection in the past, and so may be susceptible to it again.
C. diff is a bacterium which lives harmlessly in the
intestines of about 3% of the population. Certain antibiotics can
destroy the 'friendly' bacteria which also exist in the gut,
causing the C. diff bacteria to grow and multiply. When this
occurs, the C. diff bacteria produce toxins which can damage the
bowel, causing diarrhoea and painful abdominal cramps.
Due to its interaction with the prolonged use of antibiotics, C.
diff is most commonly contracted by people who are staying in a
healthcare environment such as a hospital or care home, although it
can be spread very easily by an infected patient if good hygiene
practice is not implemented.
Tricia Gordon, Senior Infection Control Nurse at County Durham and
Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, said: "The C. diff card is a
simple way of helping to reduce the risk of patients getting ill
from C. diff again and ensuring they receive the appropriate care
from healthcare professionals once they are aware of their status.
It has proved effective in other areas and we hope it will support
patients and healthcare professionals in our area in reducing the
risks associated with C. diff."
The cards will be used by health professionals to help decide what
medicines, particularly antibiotics; patients should be prescribed,
as only certain antibiotics will cause the bacterial imbalance
which can lead to a C. diff infection.
Reducing the number of patients contracting C. diff infections is a
major priority for the NHS, with each acute trust in the country
given strict targets to adhere to. County Durham and Darlington NHS
Foundation Trust's 2013/2014 target is 40 patients per 100,000. In
the first half of the year, the Trust recorded 13 cases of C. diff
infection against its target of 22. The introduction of the C. diff
card is one of the many measures being implemented across the Trust
to reduce the risk of infection. Patients who carry the card are
asked to show it to any health professional involved in their care.
This includes doctors, nurses, pharmacists, dentists and other
'As I was very, very nervous, I must have been the worst patient
ever and they were brilliant with me and I can't thank them enough
- could you please pass on my sincere thanks.'
Patient, Hysteroscopy Unit, Chester-le-Street Community