Raigmore Hospital at Inverness has closed one of its wards due to concerns over a bacterial infection.
A spokesperson confirmed today (December 19): "A meeting was held this afternoon to review a number of recent cases of Clostridium difficile infection. While there are periodically people in hospital with Clostridium difficile, we have four cases confirmed in one ward. We are therefore managing this as if it was an outbreak and are closing the ward to admissions."
The first case was confirmed on Saturday (9) with three more cases have been confirmed since then.
The Clostridium difficile infection is currently confined to one ward. The patients affected are being treated and are being closely monitored.
Clostridium difficile is a bacterium which particularly affects patients on antibiotics. It is spread in the faeces through bacteria and by spores which allow the bacteria to survive in the environment. It is a serious problem for hospitals because many patients are on antibiotics and are also already sick which makes them susceptible.
Dr Vanda Plecko, consultant microbiologist for NHS Highland, said: "We are obviously very concerned that there has been an increase in cases. The situation is being closely monitored and additional infection prevention and control measures have been put in place."
When controlling Clostridium difficile there is no single solution but measures being taken include:
Closure of an affected ward (2A, the hospital’s Stroke Unit) to eliminate the risk of cross infection to newly admitted patients and to allow specialist cleaning to happen
Restrictions on visiting
Isolation of symptomatic patients
Increased frequency of routine cleaning
Ongoing intensive surveillance across the hospital
Limiting the use of broad spectrum antibiotics
Scrupulous compliance with hand-hygiene by staff and visitors to reduce the risk of spread in the hospital environment. Visitors to the ward have also been restricted to close family only.
Heightened awareness of control measures among staff, patients and visitors
Dr Plecko said: "The risks to visitors and staff are minimal. The actions we are taking are largely to reduce the risk of the infection spreading within the ward environment. Staff have already spoken to patients and are in the process of contacting relatives of patients in the affected area to advise them of the situation and to discuss visiting arrangements."
NHS Highland advised that any member of the public who has recently been an inpatient in Raigmore Hospital and is concerned about symptoms of diarrhoea should contact NHS24 or their GP in the first instance.
More info: www.nhshighland.scot.nhs.uk