Exterminating Superbugs at the Source

In the fight against C. difficile, one hospital has designed its own approach to reducing the hospital infection.

Harrison of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center says the facility pioneered a new multi-faceted approach to combating the bug after the hospital experienced large outbreaks in years past.

"We have a bundle approach, which includes isolating patients who have C. difficile, hand washing, and limiting the use of antibiotics," Harrison says.

Hand sanitizers do not kill C. difficile so hospitals need to work to "un-train" hospital staff who have been trained to rely on them between patients, he says.

Because certain antibiotics are more likely to contribute to C. difficile, the hospital also works to limit the use of the drugs when possible.

Since the medical center has employed the bundle program, "rates have come down but it's a constant struggle," Harrison says. "There are always new strains" to deal with.

The Aftermath of Infection

For McKenzie, although his C. difficile is now under control, he admits that, "to a certain extent, I'm a little afraid of the hospital now."

While he'll never know exactly how he got C. difficile, he warns that "a lot of this is hand contact" and that "it might be dormant in someone and it may become active in you," so it's wise to "be careful."

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