AN ELDERLY woman who contracted a superbug three times was given a drug which could have increased the severity of her illness, an inquiry has heard.

Rosa Rainey was one of 55 people who caught Clostridium difficile (C Diff) at the Vale of Leven Hospital in an outbreak that lasted from December 2007 to June 2008, killing 18 people.

She was first tested positive for C Diff on January 21, 2008 – a month after she was first admitted due to a general deterioration in her health. After she fought off the first bout she tested positive again on April 1.

A day before her second diagnosis, she complained of stomach pains and was prescribed a drug called Buscopan, which is used to treat stomach cramps.

The inquiry heard from Dr Alan MacDonald, an infection prevention specialist and consultant microbiologist with NHS Ayrshire and Arran.

Asked by Colin MacAulay, QC, senior counsel to the inquiry, if that should have happened, Dr MacDonald said: "That's wrong. That shouldn't have happened."

He said C Diff creates a toxin in a sufferer's body, and Buscopan has the effect of concentrating it in the colon, which is likely to increase the severity and maybe the duration.

Mrs Rainey recovered from the second bout of C Diff, but was later tested positive for the third time in her 17-week stay at the West Dunbartonshire hospital.

She fought off the infection and was discharged to a nursing home where she died on September 2, 2008.

The inquiry before Lord MacLean continues.