A hospital acquired infection is an infection that a patient develops in hospital.
These illnesses are caused by bacteria, such as Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) and C.difficile.
While many people carry these bacteria without feeling ill, they can cause problems for people who are run down or ill, injured or who have had surgery. This is why they are associated with hospitals and other health care environments.
We work hard to combat these infections are consistently reducing the infection rates at our hospitals.
In 2008/09 we reduced cases of C.difficile infection by 33% and are working hard to reduce rates further. This makes us one of the best performing trusts in the UK for C.difficile infection rates.
More information on C.difficile
Clostridium difficile (known as C.difficile) is a bacteria that is found naturally in some people's guts without causing any problems. Certain antibiotics and some other treatments can disturb the balance of 'normal' bacteria in the gut. When this happens, the C.difficile bacteria can overgrow and lead to illness.
As C.difficile infections are usually caused by antibiotics, they are more likely to occur in hospitals or care homes. Older people are most at risk from infection.
C.difficile can spread from person to person through direct contact with infected patients or surfaces such as floors and toilets which are contaminated.
For more information, see our patient leaflet Clostridium difficile infection (PDF 467Kb).
We have the lowest rates of MRSA infections of any major London teaching hospital (of similar size and providing similar services).
More information on MRSA
MRSA stands for Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus.
Staphylococcus aureus is a common type of bacteria – about 1 in 3 of us carry it on our skin and in our noses without it doing any harm. It can cause infections if it enters the body, such as through wounds or tubes placed in the body.
Methicillin is an antibiotic - a type of penicillin. Methicillin resistant means that methicillin cannot kill the bacteria and another antibiotic will need to be used. If methicillin cannot be used to treat staphylococcus aureus, it is called MRSA.
We screen all patients for MRSA when or before they are admitted to hospital. This helps to reduce the risk of infection bought in by new patients.
We move patients with MRSA to a separate room to prevent it spreading. Staff caring for these patients wear gloves and disposable aprons, as well as following our strict hand washing procedures.
Highly contagious, norovirus is a common cause of outbreaks of diarrhoea and/or vomiting. It affects people of all ages and can be transmitted through water, food, air or person to person contact.
It is sometimes called 'winter vomiting disease' because people usually get it during the winter months. However, it can occur at any time of the year.
More information on Norovirus
NHS Choices offers the following advice on dealing with the symptoms of the virus and preventing the infection spreading.
Try to eat foods that are easy to digest, such as soup, rice, pasta and bread. Babies should continue with their normal feeds.
Drink plenty of fluids. This is particularly important for young children and the elderly, as they are more prone to dehydration. They will need urgent medical treatment if they start to show signs of dehydration such as thirst, dizziness, light headiness, headaches and dry mouth and lips.
If you find it hard to keep down fluids, try to take small sips more frequently to keep hydrated.
To reduce the risk of passing it on to others, wash your hands regularly and stay at home until you are clear of symptoms for 48 hours.
Try to minimise contact with other people. If you intend to visit someone in hospital and have symptoms of diarrhoea and/or vomiting, please do not come to hospital to visit.
Call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 or go to www.nhs.uk for further information on the symptoms and prevention of norovirus.