THE number of patients who have died as a direct result of the Clostridium difficile superbug was higher at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary than at any other hospital in Scotland.
Figures released yesterday show that eight patients died at the hospital in 2011 with the bacteria the underlying cause – a rise of seven on the previous year.
It meant the ERI was the worst in Scotland for deaths resulting from the disease, ahead of Wishaw General Hospital in Lanarkshire, where five died, and Gartnavel General Hospital and Glasgow Royal Infirmary, which each recorded four deaths from the superbug.
But there was a fall in the number of times C-diff was recorded as a contributory factor in a patient’s death at the ERI, with eight cases in 2010 falling to three last year – well below a national high of 11.
Dr Alison McCallum, director of public health and health policy at NHS Lothian, said all of the deaths had been investigated, and were reviewed again at the end of the year to look for any common lessons that could be learned.
She said: “Sadly, in the past year there has been an increase in the small number of people for whom C-diff was recorded as the cause of death.
“There will always be fluctuations in the number of infections year-on-year and due to the specialist nature of the services offered at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, many of the patients are already very ill when they are admitted.”
A further three deaths were directly caused by the superbug at St John’s Hospital, two at the Western General Hospital and one at Astley Ainslie Hospital.
The bacteria was listed as a contributory factor in another three deaths at St John’s Hospital, two deaths at Astley Ainslie Hospital, two at the Western General Infirmary and one at Liberton Hospital.
There was better news for the health board in its battle to control the spread of MRSA, with the number of patients who died as a direct result of that bug falling from five in 2010 to three last year.
Dr McCallum added: “Over recent years NHS Lothian has worked extremely hard to drive down rates of healthcare associated infections.”