Two Patients Die In C.Diff Probe

Two hospital patients who contracted the Clostridium difficile (C.diff) bug have died and 14 other cases are being investigated, a health board has confirmed.

NHS Lothian revealed the pair, who were patients at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary (ERI), died from underlying conditions but had tested positive for the infection.

The 14 other cases of the bug - described by health chiefs as a "cluster'' - are also being investigated at the same hospital in the city's Little France area. The health board said the affected patients are being cared for in isolation and infection prevention and control procedures have been reinforced.

Samples are being tested to establish if any of the cases are linked. The wards currently remain open.

Melanie Johnson, executive nurse director at NHS Lothian, said: "We have identified a cluster of C.diff at the hospital and an investigation is ongoing to establish if there is a link between the cases.

"As is usual practice, we isolate symptomatic patients, emphasise the importance of infection control precautions and undertake additional cleaning. We always act as if cases are linked and implement action to prevent cross transmission.

"Our robust surveillance procedures meant that we were able to identify these cases quickly and take the appropriate action.''

Any affected patients in the ward and their relatives have been told about the infection, the health board said.

Last month, an inquiry into the deadly Vale of Leven C.diff outbreak found the bug was a factor in the deaths of 34 out of 143 patients who had tested positive for the infection at the hospital in 2007 and 2008.

Levels of the C.diff bug among hospital patients have, however, fallen in recent years, statistics show.