Clostridioides Difficile Intestinal Infections

Clostridioides difficile (C. diff.) is a type of bacteria found in the intestines of some healthy people that normally causes no symptoms of illness. Most cases of C. diff. infection occur during or shortly after taking antibiotics. Antibiotics can affect the healthy balance of bacteria in the colon and allow an overgrowth of C. diff. bacteria that leads to an infection. Other risk factors for C. diff. infection include being age 65 or older, a recent hospitalization, taking or recently taking antibiotics, and a weakened immune system. C. diff. bacteria release toxic substances that damage the lining of the colon, causing inflammation and diarrhea. C. diff. is contagious and can be spread to others without proper precautions.

How does UAB Medicine perform?

Standardized infection ratio (SIR) is a number used to measure, track, and comparehealth care-associated infections (HAIs) among differenthealth care settings and providers. This number compares the actual number of HAIs at each health care setting to the predicted number of infections based upon the type of patients treated in that particular setting. The national standard for the SIR is 1. Numbers greater than 1 indicate that the medical center is associated with more HAIs than predicted, while numbers smaller than 1 indicate that the medical center is associated with fewer HAIs than predicted.

 

Safe Care Measures National Benchmark for SIR UAB SIR Comparison Analysis
C.Diff (Clostridioides difficile) intestinal infection 1.0 0.555  

 

What is UAB Medicine doing to improve?

C. diff. infections can be prevented in most cases by using infection control practices and prescribing antibiotics carefully. UAB Medicine uses a set of strategies that has been proven to decrease the rate of  health care-associated C. diff infections, including:

  • A clinical decision support tool that guides staff to make sure that patients with risk factors and symptoms of C. diff. infection are tested and treated as soon as possible.
  • Patients with known or suspected C. diff. infection are placed into contact precautions isolation. Contact precautions are used to prevent C. diff. bacteria from being spread to others. When patients are placed into contact precaution isolation, a sign is posted on their door to remind staff and educate visitors about what to do to prevent spreading or catching the bacteria. Staff use disposable gowns and gloves to prevent their skin or clothing from coming into contact with the bacteria and wash their hands with soap and water after the gown and gloves are removed.
  • Special cleaning practices are used to clean equipment and room surfaces that may have been contaminated by the bacteria.
  • Another way UAB Medicine protects patients and prevents C. diff. infection is through our Antibiotic Stewardship Committee. Antibiotics save many lives from infection, but they also are associated with some negative outcomes such as C. diff. infections and the development of antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic Stewardship Committee programs utilize a group of health care professionals to oversee and ensure that antibiotics are used wisely and effectively throughout the organization. Stewardship programs like these are proven to significantly reduce rates of C. diff. and other health care-associated infections.