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Wye Valley NHS Trust

Extended Spectrum Beta-Lactamase (ESBL) producing Organism

Information for patients

This information will be given to patients in hospital if they have a positive result for this organism. 

What is an Extended Spectrum Beta-Lactamase (ESBL) producing organism?

ESBL is an enzyme produced by some bacteria which breaks down antibiotics such as penicillin and cephalosporins. They tend to be strains of bowel bacteria and producing this enzyme makes them very difficult to treat.

How are they spread?

These tend to be passed from person to person on their hands. They are often found in patients who have had multiple episodes of healthcare. They are usually only identified after a patient has had the organism identified from a laboratory specimen.

How do you know that I have this organism?

An ESBL producing organism will have been identified from a sample that has been sent to the laboratory. This could be sputum, urine or a wound swab for example.

Do they always cause infection or could I be a carrier?

People can carry these organisms without any harm, this is called colonisation. Like other bacteria, they can also cause infection and when this occurs they are difficult to treat because of their resistance.

Why am I in a room on my own?

This reduces the risk of spreading the organism in the environment or to other vulnerable patients.  All healthcare staff will wear gloves and apron s when delivering your care. They should wash their hands with soap and water under a running tap or use alcohol gel on their hands when leaving your room.

Can I have visitors?

You may still have visitors. They do not need to wear gloves and aprons, but should wash their hands with soap and water when they leave you r room.

Will this delay me going home?

No. There is no reason why you cannot go home if you consultant is happy that you are medically fit to do so. It should not interfere with any rehabilitation that you need prior to going home.

Do I need to have a negative screen?

These organisms can remain in your gut without causing you harm. If you are ever re-admitted to Wye Valley NHS Trust, the staff will be alerted to you having had this organism identified previously and will take the same precautions for that admission. A negative screen in not required as the organism will be in the gut.

What can I do to help myself?

The best thing that you can do to keep yourself healthy is to have a good standard of personal hygiene. You should take extra care with hand washing, especially after using the toilet and when preparing food. See the hand hygiene technique on the back of this leaflet.

The Trust’s infection prevention team provide a comprehensive service across Wye Valley NHS Trust acute and community healthcare services. 

Please contact the team on 01432 355444 extension 5133 if you would like more information.



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