Despite incredible advances in modern medicine over the last century, bacteria-born illness remains prevalent in hospitals. Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) may be caught by patients seeking treatment for any ailment. Moreover, HAIs can impact healthcare staff as well.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports more than two million infections and ninety thousand deaths annually as a result of HAIs. Elevated risk is associated with equipment and surface disinfection, water ecosystems including distribution and quality, and disposal of medical waste.
While HAIs can occur as a result of exposure to a variety of microorganisms, clostridium difficile (C. diff) bacterium is responsible for an estimated 223 thousand cases in 2017.
What is Clostridium Difficile?
C. diff is a spore-producing bacterium found in stool that can cause diarrhea and serious intestinal conditions like colitis. Clostridium difficile infections are becoming mrore prevalent and result in an estimated 14 thousand deaths per year, according to the CDC.
A more virulent strain of C. diff emerged within the last few years that accounts for 15-25 percent of all C. diff cases in the U.S. and has a higher mortality rate of 10-15 percent.
What Causes Clostridium Difficile?
When patients, especially elderly patients, take antibiotics over a lengthy period of time, the beneficial bateria in their microbiome can be killed. This disruption makes C difficile infection more likely.
The route of transmission is most often environment-to-patient, surfaces, and hands of staff or contagious roommates.
What is the Financial Impact of Clostridium Difficile?
The financial impacts of C. diff HAIs are astounding. A 2015 review from the National Institutes of Health reported the following fiscal findings:
- The average cost of case management for a single C. diff infection is $42,316.
- The average cost of hospital-onset c. diff is $35,448 per case.
- diff infections amount to more than six billion dollars in health system costs per year. Because it most often impacts older patients, 68 percent of hospital stays are paid for by Medicare.
- Annual inpatient hospital stays totaled 24 million days.
C. diff Cleaning and Disinfecting
C. diff is particularly difficult to disinfect because it produces spores that can live on surfaces for up to five months. Additionally, the bacterium can be contagious even when patients are asymptomatic.
Proper hygiene practices and hand washing are the first line of defense against C. diff. Cleaning agents such as chlorines like hypochlorite (bleach) as well as UV light can disinfect surfaces and environments.
Chlorine dioxide can be a better alternative to hypochlorite (bleach) for eliminating C. diff. Because chlorine dioxide exists both as aqueous solutions and a gas, it can disinfect environments more efficiently and has no residue. It’s also faster-acting, less corrosive, and has less respiratory irritants compared with hypochlorite. And using Chlorine Dioxide gas is more effective than UV light due to a gas treating every surface in an enclosed room or container, whereas UV light can miss surfaces due to shadowed areas.
Chlorine dioxide can be safely used in a variety of environments such as operating rooms, patient rooms, EMS vehicles, nursing stations, surfaces, and ductworks.
PureLine’s chlorine dioxide is an ideal solution for hospitals’ disinfection needs, bringing the fight against C. diff into the 21st century. If you are curious to learn more how chlorine dioxide can be used in your healthcare setting, fill out the contact form below to get in contact with a PureLine chlorine dioxide expert!