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Increase in “hospital bug deaths”

Deaths linked to hospital-acquired infections are continuing to rise in Scotland, a report has said.

There were a total of 422 such deaths last year, or 13% of the total number of deaths under surgical care.

This compares to 401 deaths and 11% of the total for the previous year.

The latest toll was revealed in the Scottish Audit of Surgical Mortality (SASM), an annual study which examines deaths in hospitals where a patient was under the care of a surgeon.

The figures come after health secretary Nicola Sturgeon announced a £54m drive against hospital infections, including those caused by superbugs.

The three-year plan will see a pilot screening programme in 2008 for the MRSA bug ahead of a national programme the year after.

The study found the number of deaths under surgical care was 3,639, of which 1,539 were deaths after surgery, or fewer than 1% of the 247,074 patients who underwent operations.

The figures also show a continuing fall in the number of post-mortem examinations being carried out – 696 in 1999, but just 214 last year.

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Scottish Audit of Surgical Mortality