Superbug kills dad
PUBLISHED: 03:59 14 December 2006 | UPDATED: 10:21 24 May 2010
A GRIEVING family is demanding answers after a 'much-loved' husband and father died from a superbug caught at Weston General Hospital
A GRIEVING family is demanding answers after a 'much-loved' husband and father died from a superbug caught at Weston General Hospital.Geoff Brown, aged 56, went in for what he thought was a routine operation but now his heartbroken family is organising his funeral after he caught the superbug clostridium difficile, known as C diff.Geoff's widow, Lynda, told the Weston Mercury that C diff was recorded as her husband's main cause of death but she was given no information about it or told it was present in the hospital. She is outraged that no wards have been shut or warnings issued.According to the Health Protection Agency, symptoms of C diff include vomiting and diarrhoea. It says it is usually spread on the hands of healthcare staff and other people who come into contact with infected patients or contaminated surfaces.Hospitals elsewhere in the country have been closing wards when patients have caught the bug in a bid to stop it from spreading but Weston General Hospital says 'putting up signs would not help to prevent it as staff and visitors are at no risk of contracting the infection'.Weston Area Health Trust medical director Dr Tricia Woodhead said: "We are admitting increasing numbers of people into this hospital and the national picture tells us that over the last few years we would have expected to see more cases.""We have no reason to believe that the picture in Weston is any different from the national average. Even so, we have a range of special measures we have implemented this year to reduce the overall rate in the hospital."Geoff, of Station Road, had Crohn's disease and had a colostomy bag. He went back to the hospital two weeks ago to have the bag removed but soon after the operation he deteriorated.Lynda, a care worker, said: "His stomach swelled up like he was nine months pregnant and he had very bad diarrhoea. But the staff didn't keep things clean like you would imagine."I had to ask them to change his sheets, empty the commode and change his dressings. When one nurse changed his dressing after it had been on for four days she took her gloves off, saying she couldn't feel the dressing through them and not everyone washed their hands before treating him. The cleaners only mopped around the beds, not under them."Daughter Tracey, who flew back from New Zealand to see her dad, said: "We were told he had C diff but nobody explained what it was and the only reason we know now is because we looked it up on the internet. "He had several operations to try to save him but the disease literally eats away at your insides and within 14 days of going into hospital he died."Yet there are still no wards closing, no warning signs being put up and no information given out. People are going in and seeing relatives and coming out and handling children. How can it be right?"If we had known the disease was in the hospital he would have waited to go in for the operation because he was on strong antibiotics so was more susceptible to catching it. It was only because he wanted it sorted before Christmas. This could have been prevented."Tracey, aged 29, was looking forward to her dad walking her down the aisle in April and was considering starting a new life in New Zealand .Known to his many friends as 'Browner', Geoff, a plasterer by trade, was also starting a new business with his 35-year-old son Wayne and was eagerly awaiting the arrival of a grandchild. The couple have five children between them and Geoff 'enjoyed life to the full'.Geoff's funeral will take place at Weston Crematorium on Thursday at 2pm followed by a gathering at the Boro Sports Club in Locking Road at 3.15pm. For details call The Elms Funeral Directors on 01934 616006.A hospital spokesman said: "The Trust would like to express sympathy to the family of Mr Brown for his death."Our policy is to isolate patients with C diff and put in place additional precautions to minimise the risk that they could infect other patients."Hand washing by all staff and visitors should be carried out routinely."The Trust is committed to reducing all hospital infections and has taken a very proactive approach this year, initiating a number of schemes, including isolation of all patients with C diff in single rooms where possible, increased environmental cleaning with disinfectants in clinical areas, the purchase of easy-to-clean commodes for all clinical areas, issuing of clear guidance on antibiotic prescribing and further investment in additional en-suite single rooms and increased isolation facilities begins in January 2007.