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Clostridium difficile deaths rise in the UK

Deaths involving Clostridium difficile have risen by almost three-quarters in the UK despite “significant steps” to control the pathogen, according to official figures.

C difficile-related fatalities rose by 72% as the number of death certificates in England and Wales mentioning C difficile infection jumped from 3,757 in 2005 to 6,480 in 2006, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

This is despite the Department of Health reporting that measures have been taken to combat infections since 2006.

Chief Microbiologist Professor Brian Duerden said: “Since 2006 we have taken significant steps to tackle infections.

“These include stringent hand-washing guidance for the NHS, a bare below the elbows dress code, putting matrons back in charge of cleanliness on their wards and an ongoing deep clean of every ward.”

The report shows that while deaths involving MRSA have levelled out, rates for C difficile increased for both men and women.

But a spokeswoman for the Healthcare Commission said: “Recent steps taken to combat the spread of C difficile and MRSA won’t yet be fully reflected in these figures.”

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