Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Combating the C. diff 'terrorists' on the loose in hospitals

Date:
May 19, 2011
Source:
Case Western Reserve University
Summary:
Just like intelligence agents watching for the real terrorists threatening to attack, monitoring health-care worker adherence to mandatory hand-washing protocols via hand-washing squads in hospitals can go a long way to stop outbreaks of the opportunistic C. diff bacteria, says an infection prevention and control expert.

Just like intelligence agents watching for the real terrorists threatening to attack, monitoring healthcare worker adherence to mandatory hand-washing protocols via hand-washing squads in hospitals can go a long way to stop outbreaks of the opportunistic Clostridium difficile bacteria, says Irena Kenneley, an infection prevention and control expert and assistant professor of nursing from the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University.

Kenneley consulted on an analysis of a national hospital practices survey for the Association for Professionals in Infection Control (APIC).

She stated that the survey pointed to the need for mandatory standards for hand-washing monitoring, antimicrobial stewardship committees to oversee use of broad-spectrum antibiotics that wipe out the good bacteria along with the bad, and new technologies that can detect the presence of the bacteria after rooms have been thoroughly cleaned.

Currently, Goal 7 of The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations' National Patient Safety Guidelines encourages hospitals to set a baseline for hand-washing practices and then goals to improve. At one point, the JCAHO's goal was 90 percent, but organizations now must improve over past performance.

Kenneley said that this target is not enough and that quick isolation and mandatory hand-washing need to be in place.

Washing hands is one of the simplest ways to stop infections from Clostridium difficile, which is commonly called C. diff.

The benefits of hand-washing are known but not always practiced to the extent needed to get rid of the bacteria that can cling to surfaces for months and cause abdominal pain, ulcers in the colon and diarrhea in infected patients. The severity of the C. diff infection can lead to removal of the colon.

Some healthcare workers may not see why they have to go through cleansing, gowning and gloving up to deliver just an aspirin. Kenneley said that unwashed hands could contaminate the environment, or the C. diff spores may even be brought to the next patient's room.

Kenneley suggested that monitoring hand-washing practices during patient care activities when healthcare workers are not aware that they are in fact being monitored will tell us if hand-washing is being appropriately practiced.

"If there is an outbreak on a floor, it clearly points to the fact that healthcare workers are not washing their hands at appropriate times that are critical for infection prevention," she said.

Kenneley supports the recommendation of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to vigorously wash the hands with soap for 15 seconds before leaving the patient's room. She also encourages the use of the World Health Organization's published standardized guidelines for monitoring hand-washing of healthcare workers in the clinical setting.

"Alcohol wipes do not work with this bacteria," she said. Workers should also gown and glove up and remove the protection before leaving the infected patient's room to prevent the spores from clinging to clothing.

The ideal scenario to prevent the spread of further infection involves hospital workers generally springing into action when patients get diarrhea and isolate the patient while they are tested for the presence of the bacteria.

"The only way a patient is sprung from isolation is to have the tests come back negative for the bacteria," said Kenneley.

If a patient is infected, then the room needs to be cleaned with the use of bleach-based institutional cleaners.

Visual inspection of cleanliness for these bacteria is not enough. While new fluorescent light detection technologies are under development to test surface cleanliness, they still are not widely used, Kenneley said.

Better detection of cleanliness is needed, she said.

C. diff can naturally live with normal gut flora that aid in digestion and the production of vitamin K in the intestines.

But after a dose of broad-spectrum antibiotics that can destroy the good along with the bad bacteria in the intestines, C. diff has an opportunity to latch on to the walls of the gastrointestinal tract and start reproducing and releasing toxins.

As C. diff becomes heartier in its evolution, it has two particularly virulent toxins, known as A and B, which can cause bloating and severe diarrhea.

Many hospitals have antibiotic review boards to monitor antibiotic use to prevent over prescribing the drugs where not needed or to make recommendations to give an antibiotic that targets a specific bacteria instead of all bacteria.

Kenneley calls for these monitoring committees to become standard for all hospitals.

Instituting standard practices for all hospitals can be one way to stop this opportunistic infection from spreading to uninfected patients, she said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Case Western Reserve University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Case Western Reserve University. "Combating the C. diff 'terrorists' on the loose in hospitals." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110519135119.htm>.
Case Western Reserve University. (2011, May 19). Combating the C. diff 'terrorists' on the loose in hospitals. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110519135119.htm
Case Western Reserve University. "Combating the C. diff 'terrorists' on the loose in hospitals." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110519135119.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

Reuters - US Online Video (July 31, 2014) The Republican-led House of Representatives votes to sue President Obama, accusing him of overstepping his executive authority in making changes to the Affordable Care Act. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Despite Health Questions, E-Cigs Are Beneficial: Study

Despite Health Questions, E-Cigs Are Beneficial: Study

Newsy (July 31, 2014) Citing 81 previous studies, new research out of London suggests the benefits of smoking e-cigarettes instead of regular ones outweighs the risks. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins