Hospital deaths due to the superbug clostridium difficile among over 65-year-olds in Britain occur at ten times the rate of any other country, a report said Sunday.
The findings to be aired in a BBC Panorama Special: How safe is your hospital? on Sunday evening suggest that the superbug is not only mutating and getting stronger but also vehemently resisting drugs aimed at trying to arrest its growth.
AdvertisementC.difficile is responsible for the deaths of four times as many people as MRSA, with the equivalent of one person every hour dying in hospitals due to the superbug.
Despite an announcement this week saying infections due to c.difficile declined by 8 percent between October and December 2007, experts have estimated that the real figure is higher by 16 and 35 percent.
Scotland recorded a 10 percent rise in such cases while Northern Ireland witnessed a rise of almost 36 percent. Comparable figures for Wales is still not available, though Britain as a whole remains bottom of the world league.
"The figures for c.difficile show that more than 50 per cent of hospital trusts in the UK have a rate of infection that's more than 10 times that of any other country," said Professor Richard James, who leads a centre in Nottingham University investigating hospital infections.
"If you look at the over 65s, which are the group where there are more deaths, then we have more cases there, and therefore more deaths in that age-group than any country in the world by a factor of 10," he added.
His statements were based on a draft report dispatched to the Department of Health by the influential steering group on healthcare-associated infection.
The report is presently out for consultation.
James also added that though the figures are based on acute English NHS trusts, they were relevant to the whole of the country.
"The deaths of 6,500 people a year is the equivalent of one person dying every hour in our hospitals," Professor Brendan Wren, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told Panorama.
The programme conducted a Freedom of Information survey of acute trusts and health boards in the country to which 83 percent of trusts responded.
The survey said that 94 percent of hospitals have alcohol hand gels outside their infection wards - which is effective for MRSA but not against c.difficile.