By the Numbers
- Clostridium difficile is an spore forming bacterium that causes colitis and diarrhea
- Opportunistic infection caused when there is an imbalance in gut flora
- Shed in feces
- Transferred to patients mainly via the hands from those who have touched a contaminated surface or item
- Responsible for 14,000 deaths annually
- Almost all C. difficile infections are connected to getting medical care
- Almost half of infections occur in people younger than 65, but more than 90% of deaths occur in people 65 and older
- Hospitals following infection control recommendations lowered C. difficile infection rates by 20% in less than 2 years
Bundles, Guidelines & Toolkits
For Clinicians: 6 Steps to Prevention
- Prescribe and use antibiotics carefully. About 50% of all antibiotics given are not needed, unnecessarily raising the risk of C. difficile infections.
- Test for C. difficile when patients have diarrhea while on antibiotics or within several months of taking them.
- Isolate patients with C. difficile immediately.
- Wear gloves and gowns when treating patients with C. difficile, even during short visits. Hand sanitizer does not kill C. difficile, and hand washing may not be sufficient.
- Clean room surfaces with bleach or another EPA-approved, spore-killing disinfectant after a patient with C. difficile has been treated there.
- When a patient transfers, notify the new facility if the patient has a C. difficile infection