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Clostridium Difficile

Volume 458: debated on Monday 19 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance her Department has issued to hospitals on the means to prevent transmission of clostridium difficile; and if she will make a statement. (124526)

The Department has issued the following guidance specifically for the management and control of Clostridium difficile:

A professional letter on health care associated infections including particularly infection caused by Clostridium difficile was issued to all Chief Executives of national health service acute trusts, primary care trusts and strategic health authorities on 7 December 2006. This letter set out the policies and clinical practices needed to control Clostridium difficile and also included very simple operational guidance for managers.

A high impact intervention on Clostridium difficile was added to our delivery programme “Saving lives: a delivery programme to reduce healthcare associated infections including MRSA” in June 2006. This tool will help to reduce infections.

A joint professional letter from the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Nursing Officer went out to NHS Trusts in December 2005 reminding them of the importance of this infection and listed the key actions to control Clostridium difficile and highlighted the guidance available1, 2. The letter has been placed in the Library and is at:

http://www.dh.gov.uk/PublicationsAndStatistics/LettersAndCirculars/ProfessionalLetters/ChiefMedicalOfficerLetters/ChiefMedicalOfficerLettersArticle/fs/en?CONTENT_ID=4125069&chk=cuQ7C%2B

In addition we have asked the Health Protection Agency to review the extant guidance issued in 1994. This revised national guidance should be ready in the spring.

All those providing health care services need high standards of hygiene to prevent infections. Specific measures to control Clostridium difficile are restriction, where possible, of broad spectrum antibiotics, isolation of patients and enhanced environmental cleaning.

Both a simple guide to Clostridium difficile and the National Clostridium difficile Standards group: Report to the Department of Health, are available in the Library and on the Department’s website at:

http://www.dh.gov.uk/PolicyAndGuidance/HealthAndSocialCareTopics/HealthcareAcquiredInfection/HealthcareAcquiredGeneralInformation/HealthcareAcquiredGeneralArticle/fs/en?CONTENT_ID=4115800&chk=wHehV/

National Clostridium difficile Standards Group: Report to Department of the Health February 2003 http://www.dh.gov.uk/assetRoot/04/06/76/51/04067651.pdf

1 Clostridium Difficile Infection, Prevention and Management A Report by a Department of Health/PHLS joint working group. 1994 http://www.hpa.org.uk/

2 Guidelines for optimal surveillance of Clostridium difficile infection in hospitals Brazier JS and Duerden BI. Guidelines for optimal surveillance of Clostridium difficile infection in hospitals. Comm.Dis.Pub.Health. 1998:1;(4) 229-230.