C-Diff increase prompts new campaign

DOCTORS are being warned about their prescribing habits today after it emerged a surge in the number of superbug cases may have been preventable.

DOCTORS are being warned about their prescribing habits today after it emerged a surge in the number of superbug cases may have been preventable.

An investigation was launched after 250 cases of Clostridium difficlie (C-diff) were recorded in Suffolk between April and August, more than 50per cent higher than the target of 170 cases.

The study of 30 of those cases showed 12 were avoidable, and seven were due to inappropriate antibiotic prescribing by a Suffolk GP.

In response NHS Suffolk has sent a letter to all GPs and organised a study day for health professionals, warning of the dangers of giving out too many antibiotics, which was held last week.

Antibiotic use can increase people's chances of getting C-diff because they kill off healthy bacteria.

Sue Hayter, NHS Suffolk's chief nurse, said: "We were quite concerned at the figures. We looked at 30 retrospective cases. It identified many of the patients were quite ill and had had antibiotics.

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"We are going to reiterate our stance on antibiotic use and encourage appropriate prescribing in the community. There has been an overuse of antibiotics in the past and our protocol for prescribing is being reinforced."

NHS Suffolk's report said some GPs would be individually targeted to stop errant prescribing.

Bill Robinson, chief executive of the Suffolk Local Medical Committee, which represents GPs, said: “It is an important message that we need to be careful about prescribing antibiotics.

“When people get a cold they expect antibiotics and put pressure on GPs to give them to them.

“GPs want to avoid them if at all possible.”

Have you been wrongly prescribed antibiotics? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

NHS campaign

TWO cartoon families are today helping to spread the message about the dangers of excessive use of antibiotics.

NHS Suffolk has created the Notwells and Getwells in an effort to cut unnecessary prescribing while educating people about the correct use of antibiotics.

They aim to highlight that antibiotics cannot cure colds, most coughs, most earache in children and most sore throats, while they can cause unpleasant side effects.

NHS Suffolk, the county's primary care trust, has set aside a budget of £70,000 to cover the costs of advertising, training and publicity materials to promote the campaign.

Richard Hodgson, senior pharmacist at NHS Suffolk, said: “We hope that this campaign will help educate those patients who believe antibiotics are a 'cure all' remedy for minor illnesses and put pressure on their GP to prescribe them when they aren't needed.

“It's vitally important that people get clear information about the correct use of antibiotics. A lot of people aren't aware that they just don't work on viruses, such as those which cause coughs and colds, and can also have nasty side effects, such as nausea and diarrhoea.

“When used correctly, antibiotics can save lives. But using them too often or inappropriately can make patients more vulnerable to other illnesses, some of which, like Clostridium difficile, can be very serious.”

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