Living With C diff: A Unique Perspective as Patient and Provider


Mollie Lauck, NP, has both battled C diff herself and treated patients with the bacterial infection. In the second installment of our interview, she talks about her clinical approach to patients who might be considered candidates for C diff and specific strategies for infection prevention.

While she was battling C diff, Mollie Lauck, NP, was greatly concerned she would transmit the highly contagious infection to her infant son or husband. “I'm very grateful that in all of this, my husband nor my son, nor any of my close family members acquired any illness,” Lauck said. She is a nurse practitioner who had to learn the necessary infection prevention methods to disinfect her home.

Infection Prevention

As C diff can be transmitted on different surfaces, Lauck recommends using a cleaner with sodium hyperchlorite. To clean C diff spores, apply a cleaning product with this chemical for 2 minutes and then wipe it dry. For those who cannot get access to a cleaning product with sodium hyperchlorite, an at-home cleaning solution can be created mixing 1 part bleach and 9 parts water. This solution needs to be applied to surfaces for 10 minutes before wiping them dry.

She reminds people that washing hands with hot soapy water for 30 seconds is needed. And she points out that products like cleaning wipes and hand sanitizer do not kill C diff.

“C diff is a difficult organism to kill. It is not impossible, but it requires very steady treatment, and a lot of cleaning and preventative measures within your home and personal environments,” Lauck said.

In the first segment of the interview with Lauck, she spoke of her experience with C diff and her treatment. To learn more about it, go to the interview here.

Diagnosing C diff

For patients who report frequent diarrhea, Lauck will ask the following questions:

  • Have you had any recent travel? Clinicians need to consider other infectious diseases associated with diarrhea.
  • Have you been taking antibiotics?
  • Were you recently hospitalized?
  • Have you recently been pregnant or are you pregnant?
  • Do you have small children at home? For people with children 2 years of age and younger, they can be innocent carriers of C diff.

Considerations to include:

  • Is the patient immunocompromised or taking medications that perhaps alter the immune system?
  • Is the patient 65 years of age or older?

Antibiotic Stewardship

One of the ongoing concerns is how people are exposed to C diff. Lauck stresses the judicious use of antibiotics and being aware of which classes of antimicrobials are at a greater risk for C diff. (See the resources section listed below to find out which antibiotic classes make people more susceptible to developing C diff.)

Resources and Peer Support

When she was first diagnosed Lauck felt isolated. "I would have given anything when I was diagnosed to know that other people were going through this…and I felt that I was truly on an island by myself. The truth of the matter is that this is actually more common than people think.”

Lauck says it is vital to utilize resources and have peer support. “The CDC has information readily available online,” Lauck said. “There are also many other organizations out there like the Peggy Lillis Foundation (PLF), who I initially became familiar with when I was diagnosed.”

Lauck is a member of the PLF’s advocates and scientific advisory councils. Going through this harrowing experience, she remains grateful for the care she received and the people she found that shared her experience.

Contagion is working with the Peggy Lillis Foundation on this series and we will be posting more conversations with people about their lives with C diff.

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