C. difficile

Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) FACTS

West Park Healthcare Centre takes your care and safety very seriously, and we are committed to transparency. On a monthly basis we report our C. difficile infection rates here on our website.

If you have any questions about the information below or about our hospital’s infection prevention and control program, please contact West Park Healthcare Centre's Infection Control via e-mail or by phone at 416-243-3600 ext. 2718.

Measuring Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) rates

West Park Healthcare Centre posts its infection rates online on a monthly basis. On this website, you can find information about hospital-acquired infection rates for C. difficile.

What are hospital-acquired infections?

Sometimes when patients are admitted to the hospital, they can get infections. These are called hospital-acquired infections. In the case of C. difficile, this may mean that symptoms began 72 hours after admission to the hospital; or that the infection was present at the time of admission but was related to a previous admission to a hospital within the last four weeks.

What is Clostridium difficile (C. difficile)?

C. difficile is a bacteria. It can be part of the normal bacteria in the large intestine and is one of the many bacteria that can be found in stool (a bowel movement).

A C. difficile infection occurs when other good bacteria in the bowel are eliminated or decreased allowing the C. difficile bacteria to grow and produce toxin. The toxin produced can damage the bowel and cause diarrhea. C. difficile is one example of a hospital-acquired infection and is one of the most common infections found in hospitals and long-term care facilities. C. difficile has been a known cause of health care associated diarrhea for about 30 years.

Who is at risk for C. difficile?

Healthy people are not usually susceptible to C. difficile. Seniors, and people who have other illnesses or conditions being treated with antibiotics and certain other stomach medications, are at greater risk of an infection from C. difficile.

What are the symptoms of C. difficile?

The usual symptoms are mild but can be severe. Main symptoms are watery diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain/tenderness. In some cases there may not be diarrhea. Blood may or may not be present in the stools.

How do you get C. difficile?

C. difficile is the most common cause of hospital associated infectious diarrhea. Since it can be part of the normal bacteria that live in the large intestine, taking antibiotics can change the normal balance of bacteria in your large intestine making it easier for C. difficile to grow and cause an infection. Old age and the presence of other serious illnesses may increase the risk of C. difficile disease.

How does C. difficile spread?

When a person has C. difficile, the germs in the stool can soil surfaces such as toilets, handles, bedpans, or commode chairs. When touching these items, your hands can become soiled. If you then touch your mouth, you can swallow the germ. Your soiled hands can spread germs that can survive for a long time on other surfaces if not properly cleaned.

In a healthcare facility the spread of C. difficile may occur due to inadequate hand hygiene and environmental cleaning; therefore, proper control is achieved through consistent hand hygiene and thorough cleaning of the patient environment. Good hand hygiene i.e. washing hands thoroughly is the single-most effective way to prevent the spread of infectious diseases like C. difficile.

How is C. difficile diagnosed?

C. difficile is diagnosed by sending a stool specimen from a patient with unexplained diarrhea to the laboratory for testing.

How is C. difficile treated?

Treatment depends on how sick you are. People with mild symptoms may not need treatment. For more severe disease, antibiotics are required.

What precautions are used to prevent the appearance of C. difficile at West Park?

Performing hand hygiene frequently is the best defence against the spread of infection. West Park has hand sanitizers located throughout the Centre, at main entrances, and in clinical units as well as most patient rooms include wash stations at their entrance. West Park emphasizes the highest standard of cleanliness, using trained professional cleaning staff to maintain a clean and safe environment. West Park monitors patient symptoms daily and follows strict infection control guidelines when someone shows symptoms associated with C. difficile.

How does West Park Healthcare Centre control the spread of C. difficile?

At West Park any person with C. difficile will be placed on special isolation precautions until they are free from diarrhea for at least two days. Their activities outside the room will be restricted. All health care staff who enter the room will wear a gown and gloves. Everyone MUST clean their hands when leaving the room. Special cleaning procedures are put in place in the affected patient's room to ensure that all frequently touched surfaces and the bathroom are throughly cleaned.

Does West Park Healthcare Centre track C. difficile cases?

All cases of C. difficile are identified early and the Infection Prevention and Control Service (IPAC) are informed. IPAC then tracks all patients with C. difficile along with other infections.

To view West Park's infection rates, click here.

For more information about West Park's infection prevention and control initiatives, contact West Park Healthcare Centre's Infection Control via e-mail or by phone at 416-243-3600 ext. 2718.