Difficile (also known as Clostridium Difficile) is a bacteria that produces
a toxin (a type of poison) that can cause an inflammation of the intestinal
The usual symptoms are diarrhea, fever, and abdominal pain. In some cases, there may not be diarrhea. Blood may or may not be present in the stools.
C. difficile can be part of the normal bacteria that live in the large intestine. It can also be found in the large intestine after hospital admission. Taking certain antibiotics can change the normal balance of bacteria in your large intestine making it easier for C. difficile to grow and cause an infection. C. difficile has also been found on the hands of persons and in the environment around infected patients.
If a C. difficile infection is suspected, you will be asked to give a stool (feces) sample that will be tested for the bacteria and its toxins. Most importantly, you and your visitors should pay special attention to good hand washing and follow the instructions given to you by health care staff.
Precautions are needed because surfaces, like toilets and common areas that hands touch can become contaminated with the bacteria. The bacteria can live on surfaces for a long time if they are not properly cleaned. In order to prevent spread to other patients in the hospital, it will be necessary for everyone
to follow these precautions.
- If you have symptoms (diarrhea) you will be placed in a private room.
- You will need to take special care with hand washing. Wash hands or use hand
sanitizer after using the toilet or bedpan, before eating, and every time you
leave the room.
- It is also important that all staff and visitors WASH THEIR HANDS
or use hand sanitizer when they come in or when they leave your room. Do not
be shy about reminding everyone to clean their hands.
- A “stop sign” will be placed at the door to your room to remind
everyone about precautions. Staff will wear gowns and gloves when they come
in to care for you or handle items in your room.
- Items in your room will either stay with you or be cleaned when they are removed from your room.
Mild diarrhea may resolve once the antibiotics that caused the symptoms are stopped. More serious diarrhea can last longer without treatment. If you need to be treated, your doctor will order this for you.
Healthy people who are not taking antibiotics are at very low risk of getting this organism. Their best protection against even a small risk is to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer after visiting you and follow the precautions as outlined above. Other patients in the hospital are at greater risk of getting C. difficile infection.
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