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11,000 patients wrongly diagnosed

Tests for the Clostridium difficile infection are missing 20% of cases and falsely diagnosing thousands of others, researchers have said.

A study by St George’s, University of London, and St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust found that the six most commonly used tests for the hospital bug gave inaccurate results.

As a result of the findings, researchers have recommended that patients are subjected to two-stage testing to avoid misdiagnosis.

The study, which will be published on The Lancet’s Infectious Diseases website, reviewed 18 studies of the effectiveness of the current tests.

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Scientists found that 20% of positive results for C difficile may be false, meaning that 11,000 patients may have been falsely diagnosed last year.

Tests were also found to be missing up to 20% of real C difficile cases, leading to infected patients not receiving the right treatment.

C difficile is a hospital-acquired infection which can lead to diarrhoea and severe inflammation of the bowel and can be fatal.

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St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust