Clostridium difficile infections most likely found in nursing homes

It may shock New York families to know how many of their loved ones may become infected with and die because of an extremely dangerous and common bacterium. Clostridium difficile was the cause of 336,000 hospitalizations in 2009, a jump from the 139,000 in 2000. What is truly shocking, however, is that 75 percent of these infections occur in nursing homes.

This disease is easily spread and is also very difficult to kill, making it extremely dangerous to a nursing home full of residents. The bacterial spores cannot be killed by vigorous hand washing or by antibacterial gels alone. Instead, cleaners must use specific disinfectants that are approved to kill the spores.

With nearly 14,000 deaths from C. diff each year, it is important that nursing homes work to stop the spread of the disease to healthier residents, failing to do so could be considered negligent. One suggestion has been to assume that any patient showing symptoms of C. diff, such as chronic diarrhea, be tested for and treated as if he or she has the infection. This means that anyone with chronic diarrhea by removed from the general population and that all rooms be cleaned with approved disinfectants. In addition, physicians should always wear gloves and gowns when dealing with patients they suspect of having C. diff.

One of the easiest solutions for nursing home staff to regulate is to minimize skin-to-skin contact with anyone that they believe to have C. diff. For a body that is already weakened by old age, it is very important to reduce exposure to deadly diseases. For those Albany residents who suspect their family members may have been injured or died because a nursing home negligently exposed them to an illness, it is important to contact a nursing home abuse attorney to discuss what options are available.

Source: American Medical News, "C. diff causes concern in primary care, other outpatient settings," Christine S. Moyer, March 19, 2012


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