Diarrhoea and vomiting in hospital

print_iconLeaflet number: 063
Expiry date: January 2018


The causes of diarrhoea and vomiting in hospital

There are many causes of diarrhoea and vomiting in hospitals. Either symptom may occur as a result of your illness, investigation or treatment.

Sometimes diarrhoea and vomiting can be infectious, being caused by bacteria or viruses.

Infectious diarrhoea and vomiting

Infectious diarrhoea and vomiting can easily be spread in the hospital environment and can affect patients, staff and visitors.

It can be difficult to determine whether diarrhoea and vomiting is infectious or not.  This is why extra infection control precautions such as side room isolation or ward closure are taken quickly when symptoms first occur.

How is infectious diarrhoea and vomiting spread?

Infectious diarrhoea and vomiting can be spread by being in close contact with an affected person, by touching contaminated surfaces or by eating contaminated foods.

Preventing spread of infectious diarrhoea and vomiting

The most effective way you can help to prevent the spread of the illness is by thorough handwashing using soap and water.  This is particularly important after using the toilet and before eating and drinking.

Please tell the ward staff as soon as you can if you have had diarrhoea or vomiting.  It is also important to ask friends or family not to visit if they or a member of their household have had diarrhoea or vomiting in the past few days.

Sometimes patients with symptoms will be nursed in a single room to avoid spread to others in the ward.  On occasions when several patients are affected it may be necessary to care for everyone together in a bay.

Precautions for staff and visitors

Precautions that staff and visitors are required to take may differ during an outbreak.  Visitors should always speak to ward staff before coming to see you.

Further information

If you have any queries, please ask the ward staff or contact the Infection Prevention & Control Department: 01271 322680.


Posted in Infections, Medical Conditions, Patient Information Leaflets and tagged , , .

Last updated: April 21, 2016