By Aasma Day
A drug-resistant superbug has struck at Worcestershire Royal Hospital – the same bacteria that contributed to the deaths of 16 people in Manchester over a period of four years.
The latest infections have affected 24 patients, including one with blood poisoning.
Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenemase (KPC) can cause urinary tract infections and pneumonia in sick patients. It is resistant to carbapenems, the last major group of antibiotics to work against multi drug-resistant bacteria.
Strains of the superbug were found atWorcestershire Royal in June, but despite action to clean the affected wards the site was found in October to have poor hygiene controls.
Inspectors then raised the hygiene rating to red, which means there is an infection risk.
It is believed Worcestershire Royal Hospital has written to former patients to tell them about KPC and advise them that they may want to be screened.
The bacteria normally lives harmlessly in the gut but can lead to an infection, which can have serious implications for some patients.
Figures showed that 1,241 patients were affected with KPC within the Central Manchester University Hospitals area between 2009 and 2013.
The superbug has affected the orthopaedic and trauma wards at Worcestershire Royal Hospital. They have been closed to contain its spread.
The BBC said a hygiene report showed serious failures in infection control in orthopaedics and trauma, and included details of a ward’s bed pan washer not working, disposable urinals being re-used for 24 hours and blood spattered on a clean tray in the clinical room.
Vicky Morris, chief nursing officer and director of infection prevention and control at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust said “ensure the safety of our patients and in line with our stringent Infection Prevention and Control Procedures, the wards were closed until all risk of infection had passed. Both wards are now open.”
“As a precautionary measure we wrote to all those patients who may have been exposed to patients identified as a carrier of CPE and their GPs, to offer explanation, reassurance and guidance.
“All the patients who may have been exposed in this case have been recorded on our patient record systems and will be automatically screened for CPE as a precautionary measure if they need to come back into one of our hospitals.
“For patients who are not due to go back into hospital, but may be concerned, screening is being offered – either at their GP surgery or at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.”
A spokesman from Public Health England covering the Midlands area confirmed they were one of many invitees to the trust’s infection control meetings, but that it was the hospital leading on the matter.