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Care over drugs may cut death rate

Infections picked up in healthcare environments could be halved by changes to the way antibiotics are prescribed, a report claims.

New ways of treating patients susceptible to clostridium difficile (C-difficile) have been piloted by NHS Lothian at Edinburgh's Royal Victoria and Western General hospitals.

Developing C-difficile can be a side-effect of prescribing certain kinds of antibiotics for prolonged periods, according to a paper going to the trust's board.

It quotes research compiled by Health Protection Scotland, which shows the C-difficile rate in Lothian is lower than the Scottish average.

Older people with serious illnesses and conditions are most at risk of developing the infection, and under the new rules, medics review the medication to be given to vulnerable patients.

Dr Dermot Gorman, public health consultant at NHS Lothian, said: "Doctors are asked to be careful with prescribing antibiotics and to think whether patients need powerful broad spectrum ones.

"A list of antibiotics to avoid was issued and we try to ensure vulnerable patients don't remain on antibiotics longer than necessary."

Elderly patients, already extremely ill with other conditions and illnesses, are thought to be most susceptible to catching C-difficile.

Patients who have been treated with broad spectrum antibiotics, those that affect a wide range of bacteria, including intestinal bacteria, are at greatest risk.

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NHS Lothian

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