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C Diff Outbreak Calls for Manslaughter Inquiry

Author: Neil Fearn  Bullet  Dated: 04/10/2013

The biggest health board in Wales, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) is under fire after 96 cases of Clostridium difficile (C-Diff) have occurred, leaving 30 patients dead. The outbreaks occurred between January and May.

What is C-Difficile?

C-Difficile is a bacteria that is found in the intestines of both healthy and ill people. The good bacteria that are also in your intestines usually keep the C-Difficile under control. However, when you are receiving antibiotic treatment, the level of good bacteria in your stomach can decrease which will allow the C-Difficile to take over, leading to the infection. It is not necessarily the antibiotic treatment itself that is negligent but the delay in diagnosis or treatment, or both.

It can spread quickly in unsanitary conditions and if left unchecked can be fatal. Symptoms can range from mild to severe with patients often suffering from diarrhoea, fever and painful abdominal cramps.

There are many complications associated with C-Diff. These include:

  • Dehydration
  • Acute kidney failure
  • A perforated colon
  • Toxic megacolon – trapped gasses causing the colon to swell, sending the body into shock

From these examples, it is clear how dangerous C-Diff can be if left and not eradicated in a timely way.

Warnings Were Given

Even though warnings were given about a possible outbreak at the time, these were ignored. Funding was cut, leaving a lack of isolation beds, helping stop the spread of the infection and infection control nurse numbers were slashed.

Now, there are calls for a corporate manslaughter investigation to take place into the way the epidemic was handled.

The chairman and vice-chairman have already stepped down after major criticism over the disease outbreak and the way the hospital was managed. Despite this, no one from the BCUHB has been disciplined for its failings.

The healthcare scandal at BCUHB has been likened to that at Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust.

The Welsh government has sent in a team of health experts to improve the standards at BCUHB.

What Can I Do if I Caught C- Diff?

Anyone that has caught C-Diff whilst in hospital could potentially have a claim for medical negligence compensation. If you do choose to make a claim it will be against the Health Authority or Hospital Trust in which you were staying.

A claim for medical negligence compensation in this area does not only apply when you caught the infection. You can also bring a claim if there was a delay in diagnosis and management of your diagnosis.

Not only can you claim medical negligence compensation for yourself, you can also claim for a family member who died as a result.

When choosing a solicitor it is best to choose one that is skilled in this area and has experience of dealing with C-Diff cases.

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