New Test for Hospital Superbug C. diff is 'more accurate'

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An "accurate and simple" test for the 'superbug' Clostridium difficile (C. diff) could lead to worldwide benefits for health providers and patients, say researchers.

Medical Negligence

"Promising"

According to academics and physicians from Devon and the south-west, rising concerns about the number of drug-resistant C. diff strains meant the results of their tests looked promising.

Dr Steve Michell of Exeter University said the results show a "simple, accurate and robust" way of spotting potential fatalities from C. diff infections. He added that the benefits to patients, and the possible savings to the NHS, could be "immense".

Quicker treatment

Because the test is regarded as comparatively simple, non-specialists could use it within 2 days of a diagnosis, which would permit quicker treatment.

A consultant at the Royal Devon & Exeter Foundation Trust, Dr Ray Sheridan, said researchers had developed a "really simple and quick tool", which could be used by any junior physician at any time of the day or night.

"[It] easily flags up those who need a speedy and intensive treatment regime or more senior help," Dr Sheridan said. "The quicker we get on with the right treatment for the right patient the better their chances of recovery are."

Rival to MRSA

C. diff, a bacterium which attacks the digestive system, has emerged as a 'superbug' to rival and even surpass the more well-known MRSA in severity and frequency. It was first identified in the 1970s as a cause of diarrhoea in hospital patients who are administered antibiotics.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) says that deaths related to C. diff in 2011 numbered around 2,000.

Claims could yet increase

Superbugs such as C. diff are notorious for causing unnecessary illness in our hospitals. Hopefully, the new testing procedure can be rolled out to the whole of the NHS. Until it is, claims for medical negligence because of hospital infection can only increase.


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