RIDGEWOOD, N.J. -- The Valley Hospital and Holy Name Medical Center are collaborating to defeat a common foe: a dangerous drug-resistant bacterium called Clostridium difficile, or C. difficile.
C. difficile is a bacterium that can cause symptoms ranging from diarrhea to life-threatening inflammation of the colon. It was responsible for almost half a million infections and was associated with approximately 29,000 deaths in 2011, according to a study released last year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“C. difficile is public enemy No. 1 and it is clear that defeating it will take a cooperative, multi-institutional and multidisciplinary approach, since the infection can be picked up at any point in a patient’s care and can be transmitted from institution to institution, “ said Dr. Neil Gaffin, an infectious disease specialist at The Valley Hospital, “No one is going to get anywhere without working together.”
The CDC has called upon health care facilities to work together to fight C. difficile, noting that because these infections can be spread inside of and between health care facilities when patients are transferred from one facility to another, a lack of coordination can put patients at risk. Healthcare organizations are working very hard to meet the challenge of this organism, which is resistant to antibiotics causing overgrowth in the intestine in patients who are receiving antibiotics.
“We are employing bleach–based disinfectants, which are the only compounds that will inactivate the spores, and are restricting the use, spectrum and duration of antibiotic therapy to preserve the normal organisms in a patient,” said Thomas Birch, M.D., an infectious disease specialist at Holy Name Medical Center.
The Valley Hospital and Holy Name Medical Center are following the CDC’s recommendation and taking a collaborative approach to the problem. Representatives of both hospitals are meeting regularly to share best practices — including restricting the use of antibiotics, infection control practices and procedures, and diagnosis and treatment protocols — and are working with area nursing homes in an effort to limit the spread of C. difficile throughout the healthcare continuum.