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C. Diff Hospital Infections on the Rise: Study

The results of a new study suggest that the number of infections in hospitals from C. diff (Clostridium difficile) are on the rise, just as medical facilities began to get a handle on MRSA hospital infections, which are commonly referred to as an antibiotic resistant “super bug.” 

The report, presented by Duke University researchers over the weekend at the Fifth Decennial International Conference on Healthcare-Associated Infections in Atlanta, revealed that C. diff hospital infections were 25% more common than methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in hospitals that were part of the study.

Researchers looked at 28 community hospitals in the southeastern U.S. which were part of the Duke Infection Control Outreach Network. The hospitals recorded 847 C. diff infections in 2008 and 2009, and only 680 cases of MRSA.

Not only did they find that hospital-acquired C. diff was on the rise as MRSA infections declined, but they also discovered that 90% of all hospital-acquired C. diff infections occurred after the patient had been given antibiotics. Researchers say that this is because antibiotics kill off much of the “good” bacteria that helps the body combat infections, allowing C. diff to flourish.

C. diff lives in the human gut and its spores can be found in feces. It can live for weeks on hard surfaces and can withstand cleaning by many disinfectants and alcohol-based sanitizers and still live on to infect humans. C. diff causes intestinal infections that can be very painful and in rare cases can be deadly.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, There are about 215,000 hospital C. diff infections in the U.S. each year, and 263,000 cases of nursing home C. diff infections. The bacteria claims about 9,000 lives in the U.S. annually.

C. diff still has quite a ways to catch up to the prevalence of MRSA. The CDC reports that there are more than 2 million hospital infections acquired each year, resulting in about 90,000 deaths annually. Another 1.5 million long term care and nursing home infections occur every year. MRSA, which resists treatment by many antibiotics, has accounted for more than 60 percent of hospital staph infections in recent years.

In recent years, there has been an increasing number of hospital infection lawsuits filed throughout the United States, as experts believe that most of these potentially life-threatening infections can be prevented if steps are taken by the hospital and staff.

These steps could include improved methods of handling catheter during insertion, leaving them in for shorter periods and improved hygiene. Many hospitals have instituted new rules to ensure that hands are washed and increased efforts are being taken to keep areas lie the ICU more sterile and catheters clean.

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15 comments

  1. yolonda Reply

    Does anyone have any information about a class action lawsuit against a hospital thought to be plagued by c-diff?

  2. SHARON Reply

    MY MOTHER IN LAW WAS A CARE GIVER TO MY FATHER IN LAW. HE CAME HOME FROM THE NURSING HOME AND SHE WAS CHANGING HIS CHOLS BAG, HE KEPT GETTING DIAR. AND SHE HAD HIM CHECKED AND HE CONTACTED C-DIFF, THE ADMITTED HIM, BUT NO ONE THOUGHT TO WORRY ABOUT HER, SHE HAD CRONES SO WHEN THEY TOLD HER THE SYMPTOMS WERE DIAR, THAT IS THE SAME SYMPTPMS AS CRONES. SHE HAD IT FOR 5 DAYS AND THEN SHE PASSED AND MY FATHER IN LAW IS STILL IN HOSPITAL, i WOULD HAVE THOUGHT THAT THEY WOULD HAVE MADE SURE SINCE SHE WAS HIS ONLY CARE GIVER THAT SHE WOULD HAVE BEEN TESTED FOR THIS SICKNESS.

  3. Carly Reply

    My husband, April, 2008 and got a staff infection in the hospital. By the time it was , and they had to reoperate to clean the infection out of his spine, he had significant damage. It didn’t become apparent that the damage was permanent until recently, when he asked his physical therapist why he wasn’t getting any better. He is 100 percent disabled and he has lost his voice and most of his arm and neck movement. He can;t walk straight or hold his head up, and he is in constant pain. Are there any loopholes in the 2 year statute of limitations?

  4. brock Reply

    What type of lawsuits can be pursued regarding elderly in rehab skilled nursing faciity getting C Diff and Staph infection at hospital resulting in death. Also, malnurishment while at nursing home?

  5. Barbara Reply

    My mother went into hospital for bladder infection(UTI) and came out with c.diff-died 9 days later

  6. Jolene Reply

    I contracted C diff at Kaiser – Morse in Sacramento, CA. I did not have it when I went into the hospital and went back to the hospital a week later with it. I have been on Vancomycn since September and each time I get off of the meds the C diff comes back as a mutant strain and it starts all over. This time I will be on the meds for 10 weeks. I am really worried about the long term affect of taking Vancomycn and having C diff for years. I would really like information on a class action for Kaiser, I will join it!

  7. Betty Reply

    I was recently in the hospital and am now carrying the c-diff bug. Does anyone know of class action lawsuits against hospitals with c-diff???

  8. Betty Reply

    I forgot to say that I am in CA and pick up the c-diff bug at UCSD in
    La Jolla CA.

    sdollCAa

  9. Edith Reply

    There is information that using probiotics (adequate in amounts and type not just one weak acidophilus-ask a real nutritionist, doctors have no education in nutrition) from the get-go when giving antiibiotics can prevent C-diff. do they do it? No. My doctor here at Methodist Hosp in Brooklyn said “I don’t believe in it.” I got C-Diff, very sick for 40 days, then relapses and my real problem (a spinal tumor) had to be put aside while they dealt with the C-diff. I would definitely think we should all institute lawsuits and I would join any one. They must change and stop using attitude instead of science. C-diff is awful, virulent, kills people and it didn’t kill me but my GI system has never recovered from it and they constantly put me back on vancomycin to prevent it when I come to the hospital or are in a nursing home.

  10. Amanda Reply

    My dad had COPD when he was hospitalized. During his 5 day stay he contracted MRSA, Thrush and eventually went into sepsis shock. It makes me sick when I think he was better off staying at home than going to hospital.

  11. Diana Reply

    my 23 year old daughter had surgery stayed overnight in the wilmington hospital in delaware and had contracted c-diff. She has been on and off of vanco and diviced and in and out of the hospital for almost 2 years. We are now in the process of trying the fecal transplant at john hopkins. Never allow anyone in the hospital to touch you without First washing their hands and using a New pair of gloves!! Bring your own Bleach this is what kills the spores!! Any lawsuits against christiana care in delaware?

  12. jean Reply

    Iwas admitted into Kaiser Irvine, Ca. August of 2012 with accute kidney failure. I not only acquired c-diff but also salmonella. A year later I continue to be sick with major stomach pain and constant diarrhea. My life is not the same. Although I am grateful to be alive, this is no way to live.
    ps. Husband llost is job and we are no longer covered by Kaiser.

  13. Danielle Reply

    Contracted c.diff at Southern hills hospital in las Vegas having a colonoscopy sept 9th 2013.was quarantined at summerlin hospital, let go on 7th day sicket and in more pain than when I entered. I suffered gor 5 months, completely bedridden with horrible nonstop abdominal pain. I finally found a doctor in Florida, dr Shepard who performed a fecal transplant. Although my intestines are damaged from this super bug and my ibs is much worse now, im cured!
    If there is anyone who can give me information about c . difficile hospital acquired infection s in las Vegas I would be very grateful.god bless you all!

  14. Karen Reply

    Had surgery same hospital in Michigan got sic went back to hospital found out had c diff . Can’t work scared will give to someone else. Stay at home a lot away from family friends. Not working anymore who will allow me to work and can give to others . Work 16 years for same company who would not allow me to have more then 3 days off work per month. Dr said needed 15 days just in case of flair up cause my Fula ran out have not worked since April 2013 . So what do I do . Was told u really can’t sue but who will help with medical bills even more added now to bill from surgery to correct weight– and lower blood pressure and other medical issues and get a Infectious Disease. Plz help me I feel lost etc.. Family @ Friends show a lot support what I needed. But I feel like I am alone . Then I also found out I can be sued I heard if I give to someone what company will allow me to work for them. Seems like we should be allowed to sue hospital @ get free medical care for rest of our lives like we worked as an employee. Has anyone sued and won . I am in. Michigan. Help me plz..

  15. Michele Reply

    There has got to be something done to these hospitals. My sister contracted c diff in one hospital and they treated her for a basic infection, she ended up dying a week later at another hospital because the first one didn’t know what the hell they were doing.

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