Outcome of North-East hospital research involving Darlington NHS Foundation could save service millions (From The Northern Echo)
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Outcome of North-East hospital research involving Darlington NHS Foundation could save service millions
A NORTH-EAST hospital trust has taken part in the world's largest trial of probiotic drugs - and helped prove that they are not effective in preventing life-threatening gastro-intestinal infection.
The study, which looked at the role of probiotic drugs on Clostridium difficile -associated diarrhoea, was the largest of its kind in the world - and could potentially save the NHS millions of pounds.
It involved a team from County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation working with Swansea University scientists on a major Department of Health research project to see whether probiotic drugs play any role in the prevention of life-threatening infections which affect the digestive system of elderly patients.
The £1.2m study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment programme, was designed to look at strategies to reverse the increase in C. difficile infections across the NHS.
The project was run jointly by Swansea University and the Trust's research and development team.
There were 17,414 reported cases in England in 2011, and new strains of the C. difficile bacteria have emerged, which tend to cause more severe infections, with symptoms including diarrhoea, high temperature and painful abdominal cramps.
The disease results in patients having longer hospital stays, significant illness and in some cases, death.
Using patients at the University Hospital of North Durham and Darlington Memorial Hospital, as well as three hospitals in Swansea, the team screened more than 17,000 elderly inpatients between 2008 and 2012, and recruited around 2,900 patients.
Their research found that probiotics do not reduce the occurrence of C. difficile infections in elderly patients and the use of these products is unlikely to be cost-effective in preventing infections.
Dr Anjan Dhar, consultant gastroenterologist at the Trust, said: "We are very proud of this study - it is the largest study so far in the world looking at the role of probiotics in the prevention of these infections in NHS hospitals and provides scientific evidence that there is no benefit in the use of microbial products in preventing this infection.
"Our findings are likely to have a major impact in clinical practice and will save the NHS a lot of money in terms of non-effective treatments."
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