Clostridium difficile is a bacterium that causes colitis and antibiotic-associated diarrhea among patients. The prevalence of Clostridium difficile infection has increased in the past decade not only in the general population, but also among hospitalized-patients. This means that Clostridium difficile infection is a nosocomial infection that threatens the lives of patients in hospital settings.
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Forster, Taljaard, Oake, Wilson, Roth, and Walraven (2010) state that Clostridium difficile infection lengthens the duration of patients’ stay in hospitals, and consequently increases their morbidity and mortality rates. In this view, the increase of Clostridium difficile infection in our unit requires the application of effective measures to control the infection from causing preventable morbidity and mortality.
To understand ways of preventing Clostridium difficile infection, it is imperative to comprehend its etiology. Clostridium difficile infection is caused by a gram-positive bacterium, which grows under anaerobic conditions and reproduces by forming spores.
The common route of infection among humans is fecal-oral route because infected individuals release spores through feces, while uninfected individuals acquire infections by swallowing spores. Since these spores are resistant to acid, heat, and antibiotics, it is difficult to control the infection of Clostridium difficile.
According to Martinez, Leffler, and Kelly (2012), the spores of Clostridium difficile can remain infectious for months on surfaces such as hands and clothing of caregivers, patient bedding, medical equipment, and furniture amongst other surfaces in a hospital environment. When an individual swallows spores obtained from various surfaces, the spores hatch and proliferate in the intestines and produce enterotoxins, which cause diarrhea and colitis.
To prevent Clostridium difficile infection in the hospital environment, you should exercise contact precautions. You should wear gloves when handling patients with Clostridium difficile infection, and wash your hands before and after handling any patient. Hand washing is an effective contact precaution that helps in preventing the spread of spores from your hands to patients. You should wash your hands with soap and water every time you meet a patient.
Hand washing with soap and water is effective in prevention of Clostridium difficile infection because it eliminates spores from hands, and thus prevents the spread of spores from one patient to another (Martinez, Leffler, and Kelly, 2012). In this view, you should wash your hands routinely with water and soap, so that you do not become an agent of Clostridium difficile infection.
Given that spores of Clostridium difficile remain infectious on surfaces even after many months, you should handle bed linens using gloves. Moreover, you should transport bed linens in a closed container to prevent the spores from spreading into other surfaces in a hospital environment.
Dubberke (2010) argues that cross-contamination of bed linens by Clostridium difficile spores occurs during laundering. This implies that you should isolate bed linens of patients with Clostridium difficile infection and wash them separately to prevent the spores from spreading to other linens that do not have spores. Hence, you should handle and transport bed linens while taking precaution not spread the spores that are in them.
Isolation precaution is also applicable in the prevention of Clostridium difficile infection in the hospital. When a patient is diagnosed with Clostridium difficile, you should isolate the patient by placing him/her in a separate room to prevent the spores of Clostridium difficile infection that are present in bedding and other surfaces from spreading to all patients in a unit.
According to Martinez, Leffler, and Kelly (2012), the isolation precaution is central in the prevention of Clostridium difficile infection as it restricts the spread of spores. Thus, you should isolate patients with Clostridium difficile infection while they receive appropriate treatment.
Dubberke, E. (2010). Prevention of Healthcare-Associated Clostridium difficile: What Works? Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, 30(1), 38-41.
Forster, A., Taljaard, M., Oake, N., Wilson, K., Roth, V., & Walraven, C. (2010). The Effect of Hospital-Acquired Infection with Clostridium difficile on Length of Stay in Hospital. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 184(1), 37-42.
Martinez, F., Leffler, D., & Kelly, C. (2012). Clostridium difficile outbreaks: Prevention and Treatment Strategies. Risk Management and Health Policy, 5(1), 55-64.