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Hospital avoids prosecution

16th November 2007

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has said that Stoke Mandeville Hospital - the scene of a Clostridium difficile (C diff) outbreak which caused 33 deaths - will not be prosecuted.

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However, the HSE said the Buckinghamshire hospital could have done more to stop the spread of infection and did not follow advice.

During October 2003 to June 2005, two outbreaks of C diff occurred at the hospital and 334 patients contracted the bug.

The C diff bug occurs when naturally occurring bacteria in the intestine are disrupted by taking antibiotics.

Sandra Caldwell, HSE director of field operations, commented that their investigation into the hospital started due to the chance that "serious criminal offences" might have been committed.

She said: "On the basis of the evidence available, HSE did not find sufficient admissible evidence to be able to bring criminal proceedings against the Trust, alleging a link between management failures and particular deaths."

She added that the investigation showed that the hospital could "have done more" and said the HSE understood that the areas needing improvement had been implemented by the Trust.

Inspections by the Healthcare Commission have shown that the hospital has made "significant progress" in implementing necessary improvements, although some doctors were still not washing their hands enough.

Ian Biggs, head of the Healthcare Commission in the South West stated that it was now a "much safer place".

Another investigation is currently underway into C diff outbreaks at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust where 90 patients died.






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