Patients and visitors are being urged to play their part in helping to reduce the spread of infection in hospitals during the busy winter period.
Inevitably during the colder months, cases of flu, chest infections, winter vomiting and other bugs increase in the community which can, in turn, impact on the rate of infection in hospital.
Now, South Tees staff are asking people to play their part in the battle to beat the bugs by ensuring they following simple infection control measures such as washing their hands if they’re in wards or clinics.
The trust has seen an increase in the number of cases of Clostridium difficile in recent months with 53 trust-attributed cases reported for the year-to-date.
Clostridium difficile – a cause of diarrhoea which may be acquired in hospital – does, in most cases cause a relatively mild illness. However it can be a serious infection for the very frail or elderly, particularly if they are on antibiotics and have diarrhoea.
Already the trust has an action plan in place to try and reduce its Clostridium difficile rates with measures including an on-going staff campaign to reduce antibiotic prescribing, external reviews to look at where improvements can be made and setting up a healthcare associated infection collaborative with partner organisations.
Director of nursing and quality assurance Ruth Holt said: “Our overall aim is to ensure none of our patients suffer a healthcare associated infection while in our care but, inevitably, at this time of year with lots of illness in the community and lots more patients coming into hospital, we have started to see an increase in reported cases of infection so it’s really important we do everything we can to keep our patients safe.
“Healthcare staff are regularly trained and assessed in infection control and prevention techniques, such as handwashing, but it is equally important for others who spend time on our wards and in our departments to play their part in reducing the spread of infection too as bugs can so easily be spread by poor hand hygiene.
“We’d also encourage patients and visitors to ask our staff if they have cleaned their hands before caring for them. This way we can fight the challenge together.”
Information is available across the trust and on the trust’s infection control webpages about ways patients and visitors can help including:
- Hand hygiene – Please wash your hands before eating and after using the toilet. It’s also ok to ask a member of staff if they have washed their hands.
- Antibiotic prescribing – Bacteria are becoming more resistant to antibiotics, here are a few things you can do to help:
- Not all infections require antibiotics, seek advice from your GP.
- Don’t skip doses.
- Always finish the full course.
- Communication – Please tell us if you have ever had MRSA or Clostridium difficile, other infectious diarrhoea (or been in contact with someone with infectious diarrhoea)
- Cleaning – Please let the nurse in charge know if you think something needs cleaning:
- Isolation – If you or your relative have to be in a side room due to an infection, it’s important the door remains closed to help prevent bugs circulating into the main ward. Staff and visitors must wash or decontaminate their hands when entering and leaving the room and staff must always wear an apron and gloves