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MRSA and C.difficile

This page provides annual infection control data along with:

Also read: Infection control - What we have achieved and how you can help

Comparison of Annual Infection Control Data

See the mrsa and Cdiff graphs below.

mrsa resized
Cdiff resized

What are MRSA and Clostridium difficile?

Clostridium difficile

Clostridium difficile (known as C. difficile) is a germ, which is present as one of the 'normal' bacteria in the bowel of up to 3% of healthy adults and two thirds of babies. In babies it rarely causes problems.  A C. difficile infection occurs when the normal bacteria in the bowel are altered, allowing C. difficile to flourish and produce a toxin that causes diarrhoea.


MRSA is short for Meticillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (pronounced stafilococus orius). This is often shortened to Staph.aureus. Staph. aureus is a common germ which is found on the skin of many people. This is quite normal and does not necessarily mean that the person affected becomes ill.  When Staph. aureus infections do occur, they usually affect the skin, causing boils and can infect cuts and grazes. MRSA is a type of Staph. aureus that has become resistant to meticillin and other antibiotics.  When MRSA causes infection in the blood it is called a bacteraemia.

Healthcare associated infections

What is healthcare associated infection?

Healthcare associated infection is any infection which a patient may get as a result of treatment for an illness. It can be acquired as a result of treatment in hospital, a GP's surgery or even the patient's own home – any place where treatment is given. It is important to note that many of the germs (usually bacteria) that cause healthcare associated infections are normally found on the patient’s own body without causing any harm. Other bacteria or germs can be picked up from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects in the healthcare environment or by contact with infected persons. Only a small number of patients get an infection with germs from the hospital or clinic. Urinary tract, wound, bloodstream and chest infections are the most common type of healthcare associated infections.

Why do patients get an infection?

The susceptibility of the patient is an important factor. Patients with diabetes, kidney disease or cancer have a lowered immunity as a result of their illness putting them at greater risk of infection. The very young and very old are also more susceptible to certain infections.

Treament in hospital often involves the use devices such as intravenous drips and urinary catheters. These can act as sites where infection can easily enter the body.

All types of wound, including surgical wounds, provide a break in the skin’s natural defence and may become infected, usually with bacteria which were already present on the skin. While it is not possible to completely eliminate infections, it is possible to reduce it to a minimum through good infection control practice.

How common are healthcare acquired infections?

A large national study conducted in October 2011 found that approximately 6.4% of patients in hospital had acquired an infection during their stay.  Croydon University hospital participated in this national survey, and 3.1% of our patients were identified to have a hospital acquired infection in this sample. 

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