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How to combat C. difficile in hospitals

CLEVELAND, May 30 (UPI) -- Hand-washing squads in hospitals can go a long way toward stopping outbreaks of the opportunistic C. diff bacteria, U.S. nursing researchers said.

Irena Kenneley of the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland said the benefits of hand-washing are known but not always practiced to the extent needed to get rid of the bacteria.

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C. difficile can live with normal gut flora but, after a dose of broad-spectrum antibiotics destroys the good and bad bacteria in the intestines, it has an opportunity to latch on to the walls of the gastrointestinal tract and reproduce toxins that can cause bloating, severe diarrhea and can result in making it necessary to remove of the colon.

Kenneley, who consulted on an analysis of a national hospital practices survey for the Association for Professionals in Infection Control, says the survey demonstrated the need for mandatory standards for hand-washing monitoring.

"If there is an outbreak on a floor, it clearly points to the fact that healthcare workers are not washing their hands at appropriate times," Kenneley said in a statement. "Alcohol wipes do not work with this bacteria. Workers should also gown and glove up and remove the protection before leaving the infected patient's room to prevent the spores from clinging to clothing."

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To prevent the spread the infection, hospital workers should isolate the patient and, after the patient is treated, the room needs to be cleaned with bleach-based institutional cleaners, Kenneley said.

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