Sunday, September 30, 2012

# 136 - C. diff Danger - Protect Yourself

I am a writer, a blogger, a simple woman. What is it that has been said of blogging? That it is the graffiti of writing? Well, I've probably put out some graffiti in this attempt at what I call "Reality Writing," and my opinions are personal opinions, but my sharing is always a heartfelt effort mingled with a desire to be informative. This week, I have been reading some of Peter Eisler's writings. He is an investigative journalist with USA TODAY, and the recognition he receives for his work is for good reason.

I look forward to reading more of his work, even if it makes my skin a good way. I often have to pause while reading his work because each sentence is a powerpunch to the has to be absorbed with a chill-wiggle before I proceed to the next sentence. You can bet that I'll be following his reports, and I suggest you do the same.

I'm passing this particular topic along because having a broad international readership provides a great spider-web opportunity to help spread information. One little thread of knowledge leads to another, around and round it goes.

Since many support boards and groups read this blog, I am hoping you can do your part to spread the word about this bacteria I have just learned about in one of Peter Eisler's articles. It's called, "C. diff" which is short for Clostridium difficile. This bacteria could be a danger to any of us, especially those of us with known chronic medical conditions. Understanding C. diff might be vital for each of us to have an added edge to avoid this bacteria and the complications it could invite into our body. I say, face the eye-popping truth revealed in the article that I am providing via an attached link. As for me, I cannot turn my back on potentially life-saving research; I must pass it along.

Since I have had my fair share of hospitalizations and have another one fast approaching in November, the information I've recently read on a hardy bacteria called "C. diff" has apparently awakened my brain to new dangers at many different kinds of medical facilities. Yet, it seems that many of these medical facilities do not want to fully address. C. diff as a sinister bacteria making an impact upon their controlled environments. It appears that many medical facilities are learning that C. diff is not so easy to shoo away with the squirt of standard anti-bacterial cleanser.

In Peter Eisler's article, he provides in-depth research to bring awareness about the seriousness of bacterial enemies, such as C. diff, and their wiliness to escape destruction. While reading Mr. Eisler's article, I could only imagine this bacteria to be the foundation for horror sci-fi movies, its ability to cling to the cracks and crannies of hospital equipment and beyond is terrifying. The way this bacteria manifests itself in the human body is no less unthinkable except that is is thinkable. C. diff exists and the realities of it being in a hospital near you is likely.

This bacteria has proven to have deadly consequences. Just as we carefully strive to be dutiful in locking our doors at night to protect ourselves and our families, it would be wise to know what is on the other side of that locked door. And who hasn't had to made an occasional trip to some kind of medical facility? Sooner or later, most of us have to make that trip, dreaded or not. Are you thinking that you are safe because of that hand-sanitizer you carry around? Think again. Do you believe all hospital-strength cleaners and hospital-strength hand-sanitizers installed every 3-5 feet will be your first-line of defense against this bacteria? Think again.

That mop that the maintenance crew is swiping down the hall might not be doing anything but tickling this bacteria.   

For me, Peter Eisler had me thinking, first and foremost, about the disinfectants and cleaners used by many hospitals...once you learn about C. diff bacteria, it is quite amazing to discover many hospital disinfectants currently used are not able to kill this bacteria. Changes in cleaners is a simple administrative decision that could be the start in saving lives. However, for a change to occur, acknowledgement of a problem must first be admitted. Unfortunately, hospitals are like the rest of society after a problem is discovered...too many think that the problem won't hit their doorstep, so the foot-dragging toward change often results in disaster.

More than anything, Peter's investigative reporting demonstrates a direct link between awareness and resulting action.

I suppose there will be many hospitals who will avoid Mr. Eisler's investigative works as if it were the plague itself. Facing it might mean accountability. His article embraces hard-hitting information which would demand an end to blind-bliss that creates lethal ignorance. However, one nurse, one patient, one resident in town can do their part to pass along Mr. Eisler's article to promote change. If questions aren't asked, everyone keeps their mouth shut, cover-ups continue and denials remain in place.

Life has continual lessons, avoiding a problem or pretending it doesn't exist won't work. Only by educating ourselves, confronting the issue and following through with an evolving plan can the problem be erased or minimized.

And the C. diff problem is ALL of our problem because bacteria is not a selective enemy, especially when you look around and believe a medical facility appears sparkly clean. It's hard to imagine that deadly bacteria can still be hiding in the midst of a sterile environment, but C. diff proves that to be the case.

However, I urge my blog readers to digest this informative article while remembering that bacteria knows no boundaries, bacteria does not require a passport to travel. This bacteria is likely to impact whatever country you reside in, and it would be prudent to at least be aware so you can question your hospital about their protocol regarding this bacteria, especially if you are a health care worker.

Regardless, remember that most hospitals are run the same as large corporations with liability as their main concern, so the downplay of C. diff statistics is often conveniently shifted with pass-the-buck techniques in an attempt to keep the bacterial "source unknown" and this gives the excuse for patient stats linked to such bacteria the lack of a papertrail. Why would a hospital want to test their patients for C. diff and take accountability for their contamination when a patient may have just been transferred from another facility already infected? If the already-infected patient is counted as testing positive for such a bacteria as C. diff, then the hospital that did not originally cause the infection might be held to the fire. Of course, this blame game comes with a high price, often paid in full by unsuspecting patients who will become infected because of this contagious bacteria being swept under the rug, so to speak. Just remember, this bacteria will happily live under the rug, it can't be swept away so easily.

Blaming another source as a possible excuse for a patient being exposed to C. diff is an obvious ploy to keep distasteful record-keeping from sticking to name of a medical facility. However, this is one problem that proves that denial is not a viable option. C. diff causes deaths that are hard to explain.

Would it really matter where the original source of contamination came from if all medical facilities were required to keep their own records to reflect each and every patient that has tested positive for such bacteria infections? Perhaps strict record-keeping protocol would lead to a better understanding of which facilities have the bacteria invasion under control and which ones need to get a handle on such serious problems.

Peter has shown that some hospitals do indeed record each and every patient diagnosed with such bacterial infections, regardless of the possible original source of contamination...simply keeping record of the number of infected individuals in their facility is giving power to the movement toward controlling contamination. It is refreshing to see some hospitals at least taking ownership for patient stats regarding this bacteria and others, while still acknowledging that the original exposure to the bacteria might have come from another facility.

Read the article and let me know what you think. I know some of you prefer to email, but just know that I am often slow to open my emails. I am very confident that Peter Eisler's work will make a positive difference in the world because his writing has brought focus to a bacteria that is apparently not as insignificant as liability-protecting entities would have us believe.

Far more could be done to stop the deadly bacteria C. diff
By Peter Eisler, USA TODAY
Aug 15, 2012

Learn more about C. diff, spread the word, click on the link below and arm yourself with the power of knowledge.


  1. Lana, I read the article in USA Today, the video of the young girl was quite touching. I have been tested for C. diff many times while in the hospital. When I first was diagnosed I was in and out of the hospital many times. Lots of digestive problems which led to lots of "bathroom time" and the inevitable testing whenever I showed up in the ER or was admitted. I was once admitted and "deposited" in a very old part of the hospital with shared bathrooms, my surgeon was horrified and had me moved the next day. But, I know that my hospital does check for this horrible bacteria often, at least in my case. It was interesting to see that any visitors needed to wear a gown, gloves and a mask until C diff was ruled out. Nurse used disposable stethoscopes and old fashioned thermometers the whole time too. I would hope that anyone admitted to the hospital for any reason be aware of this deadly bacteria and stay aware of your surroundings. Asking medical care workers to wash their hands or wear gloves might be embarrassing....but it could save your life. Thanks for a great post.

  2. Mo, thank you so much for giving your input. I didn't even know about C. diff until recently, but I am very grateful for the broadened knowledge I've gained from people passionate about bringing awareness and change into the medical system.

    I find it so amazing that we live in an age where we are supposed to better understand germs, etc., but the indifference toward these things is still so unbelievable. I would rather be in a hospital that confronts the issue instead of trying to ignore it, as if they don't have a problem with it. It's good that you had a doctor who was willing to be horrified by you being put into a shared hospital room...I don't think some people ever get matter how much education they receive because they still can't imagine it, until it hits home. I'd rather it hit home through distant knowledge and awareness than by someone in the hospital bringing in the bacteria with a smile of ignorance. I also feel very terrible for the medical staff who does not have the support of upper administration to make the necessary changes to help cut down on these kinds of bacteria.

    Old fashioned bleach still seems to be the all-time winner and that's why I am a bleach-aholic!

    Mo, thank you for sharing. I love the bravery of those who are willing to share, it benefits the rest of us immensely!


  3. Lana,

    This is no longer just a hospital problem. A 10 year old relative recently was hospitalized with C-diff. She was not immune suppressed, recently hospitalized, no recent visit to a relative in a nursing home, on antibiotics, no known causes.

    According to CDC, C-diff is becoming more common for "NO KNOWN CAUSE". This is especially scary for me too, as I too have Addison's.

    I just wanted to point that out that it's caused by more than a trip to the hospital.


Your comment will be posted soon after - having to moderate comments because of some SPAM getting through. So, post your comment, like usual, and I will publish it as soon as possible. blog readers often give me inspiration for subsequent blog posts, so I thank you in advance! Thanks for reading this blog; I'll enjoy reading your comments.