Huge drop in number of superbug deaths

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The number of people in Scotland who died in 2009 from Clostridium difficile has fallen by 44 per cent, according to the latest figures from the General Register Office for Scotland (GROS).

There were 139 deaths in which C.diff was the underlying (main) cause of death, while there were 24 deaths due to MRSA.


The number of people in Scotland who died in 2009 from Clostridium difficile has fallen by 44 per cent, according to the latest figures from the General Register Office for Scotland (GROS).

There were 139 deaths in which C.diff was the underlying (main) cause of death, while there were 24 deaths due to MRSA.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said that the downward trend, which mirrors infection rates, clearly showed that infection control measures now in place across NHS Scotland were proving to be effective.

Key points from the GROS statistics include:

  • In 2009, there were 139 deaths in which C.diff was the underlying (main) cause. This was down from 248 in 2008 and 220 in 2007
  • There were 326 deaths where C.diff was mentioned on the death certificate as a contributory factor – down from 517 in 2008 and 377 in 2007
  • The number of deaths where C.diff was mentioned on the death certificate (as either an underlying or contributory factor) decreased from 765 in 2008 to 465
  • The total number of deaths where C.diff was mentioned on the death certificate (as either an underlying or contributory factor) decreased throughout 2009, from 146 in the first quarter to 99 in the final quarter
  • There were 24 deaths where MRSA was the underlying (main) cause – down from 48 in 2008
  • There were 137 deaths where MRSA was mentioned on the death certificate as a contributory factor – down from 166 in 2008

Ms Sturgeon said:

“I’ve made tackling superbugs like C.diff and MRSA a top priority for the Scottish Government. It is vital that people have confidence in the quality of care they receive if they need hospital treatment and that’s why we have put in place a wide range of measures designed to both crackdown on these infections and improve healthcare outcomes.

“Infection rates have been steadily declining in recent months and are now at their lowest level since monitoring began. It is good news that, as we expected, death rates are mirroring this trend.

“However, we are not complacent – one death is one too many. There is clearly more that can and must be done.

“Tackling hospital infections remains a priority. Everyone – staff, patients and visitors – has a role to play in making sure good standards of cleanliness and hand hygiene are maintained as we continue our drive to stamp out these bugs.”