Hospitals aren't doing all they can to prevent C. diff infections, survey finds

A survey of nearly 400 hospitals found that nearly half are not taking key steps to prevent Clostridium difficile infections in their patients.

A team from the University of Michigan Medical School and VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System conducted a survey of a national random sample of 398 hospitals about what they're doing to prevent C. diff infections in their facilities.

Nearly every hospital had programs to monitor for C. diff infections and protocols in place for treating a C. diff patient to prevent the spread of the illness. However, even though hospital patients are susceptible to developing C. diff infections especially after taking antibiotics, the survey found that 48 percent of hospitals have not adopted strict limits on antibiotic use.

Additionally, survey data revealed that nearly three-quarters of surveyed hospitals didn't have policies in place to test patients for C. diff when they had diarrhea while taking antibiotics or within months of taking them.

"There are many ways to try to limit the spread [of C. diff], and from our data it looks like hospitals are aware of the evidence behind them and acting on many where they believe the evidence is strong," said Sanjay Saint, MD, the lead author of the study. "But the one area where there's a major disconnect between evidence and practice is antimicrobial stewardship, or limiting antibiotic use only when necessary. It's a real opportunity for improvement."

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