Why You Should Keep Away From Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital

Dr Vernon Coleman

I was sad but not in the slightest bit surprised to read that a couple died after contracting c.difficle in Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital. My mother spent some weeks in the same hospital before she died and as a doctor I was absolutely appalled by what I saw. I'm afraid that my only surprise is that so many patients are still alive when they leave Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.

It is not, of course, the hospital's fault that killer bugs are around.

Killers such as c.difficile and s.aureus developed as a result of greed and incompetence among people who really should have known better.

The primary cause of superbug infections in hospitals is the over-use of antibiotics, and two groups of people are directly responsible.

First, doctors.

Doctors knew that by handing out unnecessary prescriptions for antibiotics they were creating deadly drug-resistant organisms. But it was easy and convenient to continue dishing out powerful antibiotics to patients with colds and flu.

Second, vets.

For years most antibiotics have been given not to human patients but to farm animals. Farmers give antibiotics to cattle and other animals because the drugs produce extra muscle. And that means more meat and more profit. Vets have known the dangers for decades. But they have steadfastly ignored the dangers in order to make a quick buck.

Overprescribing is the cause of antibiotic-resistant bugs. And we can blame doctors and vets for that.

But when these bugs run riot in hospitals I think it's nurses who really should take the blame.

The rise in the incidence of superbugs is a phenomenon almost unknown outside the NHS and in my opinion it is a direct result of poor management and appallingly low standards of nursing.

I visited the Royal Devon and Exeter on numerous occasions and was invariably shocked at what I saw. Too many members of staff seemed to me to have very little idea of the basic principles of hygiene. On one occasion, for example, I watched in horror as an employee wheeled a food trolley into a room where an infected patient was supposedly being `barrier' nursed. The trolley pusher took no precautions whatsoever and on coming out of the room containing the infected patient she happily continued onto the ward.

Nurses used to be respected for the caring way they looked after patients. But nurses have changed beyond all recognition. Today, too many seem overweight and lazy. The whole nursing profession seems more concerned with grabbing power and authority than in ensuring that patients are well looked after. Too many seem to me to consider themselves too important to do any hard work.

It is, frankly, terrifying that modern nurses are allowed to prescribe drugs and will soon be allowed to make life or death decisions.

In the Middle Ages patients used to keep out of hospitals whenever they could - knowing that a hospital stay could well prove fatal. Things aren't much different today. In my view the Royal Devon and Exeter should have a Government health warning hanging over the front door. And the staff should have health warnings stamped on their foreheads.

The bad news is that things are going to get much, much worse I'm afraid.

If Health and Safety operatives really want to save lives they should stop worrying about conker trees and other irrelevant `health threats' and concentrate all their efforts on hospitals such as the Royal Devon and Exeter.

When patients die because of superbugs why aren't the nurses involved charged with manslaughter?

Meanwhile, my advice is simple.

Keep out of the Royal Devon and Exeter as much as you can.

And if you need to go there take a good supply of antiseptic wipes and use them.

Copyright Vernon Coleman 2008 Dr Vernon Coleman is the author of over 100 books including Superbody and How To Stop Your Doctor Killing You. For specific advice on avoiding MRSA read Health Secrets Doctors Share With Their Families by Vernon Coleman and Donna Antoinette Coleman.