MRSA and Clostridium difficile (C. diff)

MRSA and Clostridium difficile (C. diff)

When C. diff or MRSA infections are contracted during a hospital stay, it can be devastating for our patients.  Infections such as these can cause pain, increased length of stay and will require the isolation of the patient (to protect others).  The medication used to treat these infections is very good, but can take a long time to work.  For this reason, the Infection Control Team believes that “Prevention is better than Cure”.


The Department of Health uses the number of MRSA blood stream infections to identify the MRSA rate for hospitals. In 2005/06 the Trust had 33 patients with MRSA blood stream infection.  At that time a number of processes were put in place to try and prevent MRSA infections, these were:

  • Teaching and encouraging hand washing or hand decontamination between patients.
  • Screening all patients for MRSA on admission to the acute wards.
  • Isolating patients with MRSA in single rooms.
  • Encouraging patients to continue with MRSA treatment when discharged home.

As a result of these actions, our last patient with an MRSA blood stream infection was in February 2013 (until that date there had been a 16 month period between bacteraemia cases).


Many of our patients require antibiotic treatment to treat serious infections such as pneumonia or meningitis.  Like all medicines, antibiotics can cause some side effects, one of which is diarrhoea.

Although antibiotics are needed to help the patient fight infection, they also interfere with the balance of good bacteria in the gut making it easier for C. diff to multiply.

C. diff can spread easily from person to person, when patients with diarrhoea remain in the ward with other patients and when hygiene is poor.  This puts patients having antibiotic treatments at risk of developing a C. diff infection.


In 2012/2013 the trust had 13 patients with C.diff. This is a huge achievement for the trust as we had 73 patients with C.diff associated diarrhoea in 2009/10.

The success is in part due to:

  • Isolating all patients with diarrhoea in single rooms (this is whether C. diff is suspected or confirmed)
  • Rapid treatment for suspected and confirmed cases.
  • Careful prescribing of antibiotic treatments.
  • Improvements in environmental cleaning.