It’s Time to Start Thinking Seriously About C. Diff
Every nurse knows the unfortunate side effects that Clostridium Difficile (C. diff) brings. When you’re not glued to a toilet, you’re experiencing flu-like symptoms, with absolutely zero energy. Needless to say, it’s the last thing a travel nurse wants to experience. Thankfully, most nurses practice good hygiene and proper sterilization, keeping them relatively safe from exposure. But even the best handwashing practices may not protect against a new super strain of C. diff hitting hospitals nationwide.
New reports warn of C. diff super strains
You’re already familiar with C. diff and its dangers to you and your patients, but a recent study shows that new strains of C. diff are starting to take healthcare providers by surprise. These “super strains” are evolving and adapting to modern diets and cleaning methods, making them harder than ever to eradicate in hospital settings.
One of two new species of C. diff bacteria has become genetically resistant to the average hospital’s cleaning methods, meaning it’s likely to become much more prevalent in healthcare facilities. This same strain is also adept at spreading ― putting you, your colleagues, and your patients at increased risk.
The dangers of the new C. diff
Researchers believe the new C. diff super-strain began evolving as early as hundreds of years ago, when modern medicine began to take form. This new strain of bacteria is resistant to antibiotics and can stand up against hospital disinfectant and cleaning procedures, making it difficult to get rid of once it’s present.
Additionally, it has grown to thrive off of simple-sugar diets, which are common not only for hospital patients, but also the modern world in general. Because of these genetic advantages, the bacterial strain already accounts for a majority of healthcare-related C. diff infections.
C. diff poses threats to patients, in particular, because they are the most likely to be immunocompromised or to have undergone antibiotics that altered their gut microbiota. However, this prevalent type of C. diff also poses increased risks to travel nurses and other hospital staff because of its ability to spread and thrive within the hospital in general.
Preventing C. diff outbreaks in your facility
C. diff is an increasing public health problem. Back in 2011, over 450,000 C. diff-related cases and 29,000 deaths were reported in the U.S., and the numbers are growing. With C. diff becoming more and more common in healthcare facilities around the world, it’s time to take action and actively work to prevent it from affecting your hospital.
One way to do this is through education. Make sure your nursing colleagues are up-to-speed on the latest strain of the bacteria and have team discussions about how to eradicate it through thorough cleaning. You should also educate your patients, who may face an increased risk of infection.
Encourage colleagues, visitors, and patients to wash their hands after every interaction, as hand contact is how the bacteria tends to spread in healthcare environments. Patients and nurses should also take good care of their gut health, since C. diff is able to alter the gut microbiome in times of bacterial imbalance. To do this, consider taking probiotic supplements, limit sugar intake, and minimize antibiotic use as much as possible.
Through education and protective measures, you can help protect yourself, your colleagues, visitors, and your patients from this unfortunate, potentially life-threatening bacterial infection.