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New Study Shows High C. difficile Rates in Many US Hospitals

OCT 10, 2016 | EINAV KEET
Clifford McDonald, MD, a senior advisor at the CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, says the agency works with state health departments, hospital associations, and hospital improvement innovation networks contracted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to tackle high infection rates in healthcare settings. “One way CDC does this is through the targeted assessments for prevention strategy, which identifies and addresses infection prevention in hospitals with the highest infection rates. In addition, in 2016 the CDC provided $67 million to help health departments nationwide tackle antibiotic resistance and Clostridium difficile across healthcare settings and communities.”

The CDC says that antibiotic stewardship programs aimed at improving the use of these medications in hospitals can greatly reduce healthcare-associated infections and other adverse events. Doctors and care givers can greatly prevent the spread of C. difficile infections in hospitals with some of the following protocols:
  • Use antibiotics judiciously.
  • Use contact precautions for patients with known or suspected C. difficile infection. Place these patients in private rooms.  If private rooms are not available, these patients can be placed in rooms with other patients with C. difficile infection.
  • Use gloves when entering patients’ rooms and during patient care. Preventing contamination of the hands via glove-use remains the cornerstone for preventing C. difficile transmission via the hands of healthcare workers.
  • Perform hand hygiene after removing gloves.
  • Because alcohol does not kill C. difficile spores, use of soap and water is more efficacious than alcohol-based hand rubs. However, early experimental data suggest that even with use of soap and water, the removal of C. difficile spores is more challenging than the removal or inactivation of other common pathogens.
  • 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.
  • Implement an environmental cleaning and disinfection strategy. Ensure adequate cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces and reusable devices, especially items likely to be contaminated with feces and surfaces that are touched frequently.
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