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Identifying And Treating C-Diff Infection | Daytona Beach Malpractice Lawyer

Identifying And Treating C-Diff Infection

C-diff infection, short for clostridium difficile, is the most frequent cause for health-care associated diarrhea, which can be very serious for those residing in nursing home or other long-term health care facilities.

In one hospital, 30 percent of adults who developed health-care–associated diarrhea were positive for C-diff infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Risk factors for acquiring C-diff associated infection include a) exposure to antibiotic therapy; b) gastrointestinal procedures and surgery; c) advanced age; and d) indiscriminate use of antibiotics. Of all the measures that have been used to prevent the spread of C-diff associated diarrhea, the most successful has been the restriction of the use of antimicrobial agents.

Environmental contamination by this microorganism is well known, especially in places where fecal contamination may occur. The environment (especially housekeeping surfaces) rarely serves as a direct source of infection for patients. However, direct exposure to contaminated patient-care items like rectal thermometers and high-touch surfaces like light switches in patients’ bathrooms have been implicated as sources of infection.

Transfer of the pathogen to the patient via the hands of health-care workers is thought to be the most likely mechanism of exposure. Handwashing remains the most effective means of reducing hand contamination. Proper use of gloves is an ancillary measure that helps to further minimize transfer of these pathogens from one surface to another.

Clinical symptoms include watery diarrhea, fever, loss of appetite, nausea and abdominal pain/tenderness.

The risk for disease increases in patients with long length of stay in healthcare settings, antibiotic exposure, gastrointestinal surgery/manipulation, a serious underlying illness, immunocompromising conditions and advanced age.

Although C-diff infections rarely lead to death, it can put patients at risk for pseudomembranous colitis (PMC), toxic megacolon, perforations of the colon and sepsis, a bacterial infection of the bloodstream.

In about 20 percent of patients, C-diff infection will resolve within 2-3 days of discontinuing the antibiotic to which the patient was previously exposed. After treatment, repeat Clostridium difficile testing is not recommended if the patients’ symptoms have resolved, as patients may remain colonized.

To prevent C-diff infection in healthcare settings, the CDC recommends these tips:

Use antibiotics judiciously

Place these patients in private rooms. If private rooms are not available, these patients can be placed in rooms (cohorted) with other patients with C-diff infection.

Use gloves when entering patients’ rooms and during patient care.

Perform Hand Hygiene after removing gloves. Because alcohol does not kill Clostridium difficile spores, use of soap and water is better than alcohol-based hand rubs. However, early experimental data suggest that, even using soap and water, the removal of C. difficile spores is more challenging than the removal or inactivation of other common pathogens.

Preventing contamination of the hands via glove use remains the cornerstone for preventing Clostridium difficile transmission via the hands of healthcare workers; any theoretical benefit from instituting soap and water must be balanced against the potential for decreased compliance resulting from a more complex hand hygiene message.

If an institution experiences an outbreak, consider using only soap and water for hand hygiene when caring for patients with C-diff infection.

Because C-diff-infected patients continue to shed organism for a number of days following cessation of diarrhea, some institutions routinely continue isolation for either several days beyond symptom resolution or until discharge, depending upon the type of setting and average length of stay.

For more on health related issues affecting nursing home patients, see the library of articles by Daytona Beach nursing home injury lawyer.

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