Deaths Caused by Hospital Superbugs Need to be Put onto Death Certificates

MRSA and Clostridium difficile death "underestimated"


There have been calls for hospitals to list hospital superbugs if they have been a contributing factor to the patient's death.

Whilst the number of death certificates with MRSA or Clostridium difficile listed has soared nationally, from 51 cases in 1993 to 1,629 in 2005, some campaigners believe that these statistics are heavily underestimated.

It is important that these are listed on the death certificate, because otherwise the true extent of deaths and infection rates will be distorted, and prevention will be harder.

Nick Coveney, director of nursing and patient care at the JPH, said when a doctor completes a death certificate and the patient has had either MRSA or C diff, the doctor is required to contact the director of infection prevention and control.

He said: A discussion takes place about how and why the patient died and whether the infection was a contributory factor. The outcome of this discussion is recorded on the death certificate as appropriate, and noted in our records so that there is an audit trail.

The procedures for death certification are laid down nationally by the Home Office. Cause of death is recorded in six stages ranging from the cause of death to it being a small contributory factor.

The infection is caused by bacteria which lives in many people's intestine, without causing problems. But some antibiotics upset the balance of bacteria, allowing c.diff to thrive and produce toxins, which can cause severe diarrhoea and bowel inflammation. The infection can be spread on the hands of healthcare staff and other people who come into contact with patients or equipment.

MRSA and Clostridium difficile compensation claims

We are acting for many patients who have contracted MRSA or Clostridium difficile while being treated in hospital. Sadly, in some cases, the patients have died as a result of the infection, and their families have had to battle with the hospital to ensure that the correct cause of death is given on the death certificate.

If you or someone you know has been effected, our expert solicitors can help with legal action. Fill in our online claims form for free advice.

You can also visit our MRSA compensation claims section for more information on MRSA.