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Disparity in C diff statistics


5 June, 2008  

It has emerged that cases of the deadly hospital bug Clostridium difficile (C difficile) may be much higher in Wales than official statistics show.

Statistics on the bug published by the Wales Public Health Service do not include victims under the age of 65, an investigation for BBC Wales has revealed. In England all patients aged two and over are included in published statistics.

The broadcaster used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain the data, and discovered that in some parts of Wales hospitals had treated far more patients than had been publicly reported.

“Currently we publish figures on patients who have had a laboratory diagnosis of C difficile and are over 65,” said chief medical officer for Wales Dr Tony Jewell. “It is not easy to compare data between Trusts, because the incidence of infection depends on a range of factors, including the age of the patients being treated and the type of operations carried out.”

“At present, the four UK countries have slightly different reporting and publication arrangements for data on C difficile,” Dr Jewell added. “We are currently looking at how we can publish data for all age groups and using different methods so that our data can easily be compared across the UK.”

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Wales Public Health Service