What Causes C Diff?

Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, is a bacterium that inflames the colon and causes severe diarrhea. C. diff can reside in your colon as part of your normal flora, but when that flora is disrupted through the use of antibiotics, the bacterium takes the opportunity to attack.

C. diff spreads through fecal-to-oral transmission. For example, if someone has C. diff in their colon and does not wash their hands with soap and water after using the bathroom, they can spread the C. diff spores by touching surfaces. These spores can reside on surfaces for five months, and can be moved from place to place if proper hand hygiene and environmental cleaning is not performed.

How is C. diff reported?

Beaufort Memorial Hospital reports all C. diff infections to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). If a patient tests positive for C. diff after the third admission day, the CDC deems it as “hospital onset.” The rates in the graph reflect the standardized infection ratio, which is the number of observed infections divided by the expected infections.

How are we working to prevent C. diff?

We strictly monitor hand hygiene and personal protective equipment (gown and glove use) across the hospital, especially in isolation rooms. We use a sporicidal in all of our patient rooms and a fluorescent marker to monitor whether all high-touch objects are being cleaned. Soon we will begin using a special UV robot that goes into isolation rooms to kill any bacteria that may be left behind.

Clostridium difficile (C. diff)


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