C diff cases on hospital ward ‘were not reported as an outbreak’

Cases of an infection that went on to claim the lives of 18 people were, in hindsight, an outbreak, a nurse has told an inquiry.

A total of 55 patients were infected with Clostridium difficile (C diff) between December 2007 and June 2008 at Vale of Leven hospital in Alexandria, West Dunbartonshire.

C diff was blamed for nine of the deaths and was said to be a contributory factor in the other nine.

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Sister Lesley Fox, who was responsible for the ward where a number of women tested positive for C diff in 2007 and 2008, said the cases amongst her patients were not classed as an outbreak at the time.

Some of those who tested positive for C diff on ward six later died. Ms Fox told the inquiry into the outbreak yesterday that an infection control team would declare whether there was an outbreak on a ward and they had been told about unexplained cases of diarrhoea and patients diagnosed with C diff on her ward in 2007 and 2008.

“I did not report it as an outbreak, I reported the symptoms,” she added.

Ms Fox was speaking for the second day at the inquiry in Maryhill, Glasgow.