Stop Spread of C. Difficile? Methods Matter, Research Shows

By Ferenc, Jeff | Health Facilities Management, May 2013 | Go to article overview

Stop Spread of C. Difficile? Methods Matter, Research Shows


Ferenc, Jeff, Health Facilities Management


Increased activity to prevent the spread of Clostridium difficile, which is linked to thousands of deaths annually, is failing to reduce infection rates, which have reached historically high levels.

That's the finding of one recent survey. But another study shows that the person who cleans and disinfects patient rooms and how it is done can make a difference in controlling the deadly bacteria.

According to a recent survey by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), 70 percent of respondents said the hospital in which they work has adopted additional interventions to address the problem of C. difficile infections (CDI).

Yet, only 42 percent witnessed a decline in their CDI rates during that period, while 43 percent did not see a decline, according to APIC's 2013 CDI Pace of Progress

survey conducted Jan. 14-28, 2013. Survey results were presented in March at APIC's Clostridium difficile Education and Consensus Conference in Baltimore.

While cleaning activity has increased, monitoring the results has not kept pace, the survey reported. While 92 percent of respondents have increased emphasis on environmental cleaning and equipment decontamination, 64 percent said they rely on observation instead of more accurate monitoring technologies to determine cleaning effectiveness. Fourteen percent said that nothing was being done to monitor room cleaning.

Because C. diff spores can survive in the environment for many months and are highly resistant to cleaning and disinfection, environmental cleaning and disinfection are critical to prevent the transmission of CDI, APIC says.

But how it's done makes a difference, notes a study published in the May issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, the journal for the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America. The study describes the importance of establishing a rigorous cleaning and monitoring regime to control C. diff.

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The study notes that a dedicated daily cleaning crew who uses a standardized process to clean and disinfect rooms contaminated by C. diff can be more effective than other disinfection interventions.

The cleaning crew used fluorescent markers to monitor cleaning effectiveness, an automated ultraviolet radiation device and bleach wipes to augment disinfection after cleaning.

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