Infectious diseases

Preventing patients from acquiring infections whilst they are in hospital is one of our top priorities for keeping patients safe from harm at both Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and West Middlesex University Hospital. 

The two most common types of potentially serious infections are MRSA and Clostridium difficile. As part of our infection control measures we both screen patients for these diseases and are required to record all cases of these infections found in patients.

MRSA (Meticillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is a bacteria that often lives harmlessly on the skin—when it lives on the skin without causing infection this is called ‘being colonised’.

Adults admitted to the hospital for planned medical and surgical treatment or as an emergency are screened for the presence of MRSA in their nose (the commonest part of the body where it is found). Where it is found, these patients can then be treated with the aim of eradicating these bacteria as soon as possible, thus putting them – as well as other patients – at reduced risk of acquiring an infection. For further information, download the Simple Guide to MRSA (PDF)

Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) is a bacterium that is present naturally in the gut of around two-thirds of children and 3% of adults. It does not cause any problems in healthy people. However, some antibiotics that are used to treat other health conditions can interfere with the balance of 'good' bacteria in the gut. When this happens, C. difficile bacteria can multiply and produce toxins (poisons), which cause illness such as diarrhoea and fever. At this point, a person is said to be infected with C. difficile.

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