Highlanders visiting stroke patients at Raigmore Hospital will have to make prior arrangements over the Christmas period after the unit was closed to visitors due to an infection outbreak.
Ward 2A was closed yesterday after four patients contacted Clostridium difficile. The first case was confirmed on Saturday, December 9, with three cases having been confirmed since then.
All visitors will have to arrange visiting times with ward staff in advance over Christmas, with a review scheduled to take place on Wednesday.
The decision was taken to close the ward in a bid to contain the infection and prevent spreading the infection.
Dr Vanda Plecko, consultant microbiologist for NHS Highland, said: “We are obviously very concerned that there has been an increase in cases. The situation is being closely monitored and additional infection prevention and control measures have been put in place.”
A number of measures have been put in place to combat the infection including, isolating symptomatic patients, restricting visiting and increase routine cleaning, as well as monitoring patients across the hospital for possible side effects and ensure compliance of hand-hygiene between visitors and staff; to prevent the risk of spreading across the hospital environment.
The infection targets those who are currently taking antibiotics spreading in the faeces through bacteria and by spores, allowing the bacteria to survive in the environment.
Dr Plecko said: “The risks to visitors and staff are minimal. The actions we are taking are largely to reduce the risk of the infection spreading within the ward environment. Staff have already spoken to patients and are in the process of contacting relatives of patients in the affected area to advise them of the situation and to discuss visiting arrangements.”
NHS Highland has advised that any member of the public who has recently been an inpatient in Raigmore Hospital and is concerned about symptoms of diarrhoea should contact NHS24 or their GP in the first instance.