The rate of some healthcare-associated infections could be halved through changes to how antibiotics are prescribed, a report has claimed.
Medics at NHS Lothian have piloted new ways of treating patients susceptible to clostridium difficile (C-difficile). Trials at Edinburgh's Royal Victoria and Western General Hospitals were so successful they are being immediately introduced at a third site.
Developing C-difficile can be a side-effect of prescribing certain kinds of antibiotics for prolonged periods.
The paper also quotes research compiled by Health Protection Scotland, which shows the C-difficile rate in Lothian is lower than the Scottish average.
Older people with serious illnesses and conditions are most at risk of developing the infection, and under the new rules, medics review the medication to be given to vulnerable patients.
Dr Dermot Gorman, public health consultant at NHS Lothian, said: "Doctors are asked to be careful with prescribing antibiotics and to think whether patients need powerful broad spectrum ones.
"A list of antibiotics to avoid was issued and we try to ensure vulnerable patients don't remain on antibiotics longer than necessary."
The new rules are now being introduced at Edinburgh's Liberton Hospital.