PA Patient Safety Authority Raises Awareness About C. diff During IIPW


Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) remains a major concern in healthcare facilities throughout the United States and worldwide. The Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority published preliminary data results in March 2010 from nursing homes that show CDI accounts for almost 40 percent of reported gastrointestinal infections during the third quarter of 2009. Also, preliminary analysis from Pennsylvania hospitals in 2009 shows that C. diff remains a concern.

Rates of CDI infection in Pennsylvania nursing homes ranged from 0.35 to 5.22 per 1,000 resident days, depending on the type of unit. The Authority continues to collect data from nursing homes, and CDI rates to date appear to be consistent with those reported in March 2010. Over the past yearthrough September 2010the Authority received 3,015 reports of CDI from nursing homes; this is an average of 251 infections per month.

The preliminary analysis of reports from Pennsylvania hospitals for 2009 shows that CDI occurred at a rate of 4.0 infections per 1,000 patient days, consistent with data from other states that have published hospital rates for CDI. Comparisons with previous years are not possible because these infections were not monitored prior to the initiation of mandatory healthcare-associated infection (HAI) reporting. The Authority continues to closely monitor these infections as well as other HAIs.

CDI is caused by a spore-producing bacterium in the Clostridia family. It is the most common cause of healthcare-associated infectious diarrhea in healthcare facilities. The elderly or people receiving antibiotics are more likely to develop CDI. Many people with diarrhea may not realize they have C.diff.

To help raise awareness of CDI, the Authority recently sent posters to all nursing homes, hospitals, ambulatory surgery facilities, birthing centers and certain abortion facilities for display in their clinical care areas and patient waiting room areas. The clinical poster, "Clostridium Difficile Infection Facts and Prevention Strategies" is for display in clinical areas to remind healthcare personnel about the importance of preventing this infection. The consumer tips poster, "C. Diff Infections: What You Should Know When Taking Antibiotics" is for display in waiting rooms and general visiting areas.

"C. diff infections have been an ongoing infection prevention issue particularly in healthcare facilities; however, community acquired cases are seen too," says Phenelle Segal, an infection prevention analyst with the Authority. "Recent nationwide data shows that the infection, caused largely by antibiotic use, is rising significantly among all populations using the healthcare system, not just the elderly. "The Authority is dedicated to the issue of infection prevention and offers many educational resources for healthcare facilities and consumers to take the steps necessary to prevent C. diff and other infections," Segal adds.

Along with the recent preliminary hospital data and nursing home data, the Authority published information about the high risks associated with patients who contract central-line associated bloodstream infections, also known as CLABSI.

The Authority offers infection prevention toolkits on its website for C. diff, CLABSI and catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI) so healthcare professionals can implement prevention strategies in their facilities. An infection prevention page on the Authority's website is also available that contains all Advisory articles and useful information for the prevention and elimination of healthcare-associated infections. To review the infection prevention webpage and related materials, click on "Healthcare-Associated Infections" under "News and Information" at the Authority's website

The 2010 International Infection Prevention Week, Oct. 17-23, 2010 is sponsored by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc. (APIC). This year's theme is "Infection Prevention is Everyone's Business." APIC's mission is to improve health and patient safety by reducing risks of infection and other adverse outcomes. The Authority will continue to work to help APIC in its mission by providing Pennsylvania healthcare facilities with the education and tools necessary to prevent healthcare-associated infections.


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