Care over the way antibiotics are prescribed could halve the rate of some healthcare-associated infections, a report has revealed.
The study follows pioneering work by medics at NHS Lothian into new ways of treating patients susceptible to clostridium difficile (C difficile).
Trials at Edinburgh’s Royal Victoria and Western General hospitals were so successful they are being immediately introduced at a third site in the city.
Developing C difficile can be a side-effect of prescribing certain kinds of antibiotics for prolonged periods, according to the report by Health Protection Scotland, which found 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. New rules would see medics review the medication 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.
“The trials were first conducted on selected wards at the Royal Victoria and Western General Hospitals. The areas were places where we had previously seen small numbers of cases. The trials showed that the new antimicrobial care bundles halved the rate of infection.”
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