Monday, April 2, 2012

C. diff

Washing Hands Can Make a Difference

Wash your hands before eating takes a whole new turn after reading this article in LI Newsday.
A recent article in Long Island’s Newsday by Delthia Ricks explains in detail the problems with the bacterial infection Clostridiumdifficile, also known as C. diff.  This bacterial infection, known to cause severe pain, diarrhea and high fever is a serious problem in hospitals throughout the country.   In 2009 there were 337,000 cases Ricks reports in the article, more than doubling the number from the less than ten years earlier.
The spores can live for months and can be spread if not killed with bleach in a room where the spores might be living in a patient’s room.  To clean hands from the spores soap and water must be used.  The hand sanitizers won’t do it.
So how does this change what we already know?  As a patient safety educator I will let people know that soap and water must be used when someone enters the room to treat a patient.   If you feel uncomfortable asking someone to wash their hands, carry this article with you and tape it to the patient’s wall. 
When a family member or friend visit – leave the flowers home and bring a container of Clorox wipes.  Grab some gloves and wipe down the room.  The tray table, bed rails, door and door knob, TV remote, call bell and sink.

Wash your own hands repeatedly with soap and water and if you touch anything wash again.  Your hands may be clean when you come in but anything you touch can be contaminated which will start the process of contamination over again.
A recent discussion at a group training caused an outburst by a woman when I suggested that unless hands are noticeably soiled, antibacterial lotion can be used.  She was upset by this comment because her mother suffered from C. diff.  Her knowledge on the subject made me and my colleague Jeff, who has been offering these programs with me, to rethink how we discuss infection prevention.  If C. diff is as big a problem as it is said to be then we have a right to insist on soap and water.

NY State information on C.diff
Pamphlet on C.Diff


Alicia Johnson said...

Very important and accurate article. When I visited my grandmother in one of the biggest hospitals in NY I was shocked to see the sanitary condition of the rooms and hospital in general. I always carry alcohol wipes so I started cleaning everything that was near her including thebed rails for adults, tv remote and emergency bottom.

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