72% rise in clostridium difficile linked deaths

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The number of deaths involving Clostridium difficile continued to rise between 2005 and 2006, while deaths involving MRSA levelled out, according to new figures published by the Office for National Statistics in Health Statistics Quarterly 37 spring 2008.

The number of death certificates in England and Wales that mentioned C. difficile infection rose from 3,757 in 2005 to 6,480 in 2006, an increase of 72 per cent. Some of the increase in deaths involving C. difficile may be due to more complete reporting on death certificates.

Age-standardised mortality rates for deaths involving C. difficile increased by 77 per cent among males, and 66 per cent among females between 2005 and 2006. Rates increased from 37.0 to 65.5 per million population among males, and from 38.6 to 64.2 per million population among females between 2005 and 2006. Among deaths with a mention of C. difficile, the percentage for which it was the underlying cause has been similar (around 55 per cent) in each year since 1999.

The number of death certificates that mentioned meticillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) stabilised at 1,652 in 2006. This follows a sustained increase in MRSA-related deaths from 51 in 1993 to 1,649 in 2005.

Age-standardised mortality rates for deaths involving MRSA among males increased by 4 per cent, from 25.8 to 26.8 per million population, between 2005 and 2006. Rates among females decreased by 9 per cent over the same period, falling from 14.4 to 13.2 per million population.

The proportion of mentions of MRSA that were also selected as the underlying cause of death has stabilised at around one in three in the last five years.

National Statistics are produced to high professional standards set out in the National Statistics Code of Practice. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference.

Source: National Statistics, UK

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