APIC Covers Up Extent, Causes Of Deadly C. Difficile
Today, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control (APIC) announced the results of a nationwide survey on the incidence of Clostridium difficile infections among hospital patients. "Unfortunately, APIC failed to connect the dots," says Betsy McCaughey, Ph.D., Chairman of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths (RID). "The new data show that approximately 329,196 patients contracted Clostridium difficile (C. diff) in healthcare facilities this year."
What's puzzling about this number? It's not in the APIC press release or report. The APIC report shows that nearly 1.3% of hospital patients are infected with C. diff. and 72.5% of them pick up the deadly germ in a healthcare facility. Yet Janet E. Frain, APIC President, says "Our results show that the majority of CDI [C. diff infected] patients are admitted to the hospital already infected."
McCaughey counters, "Janet Frain's statement helps hospitals save face, but it won't save lives. It contradicts what the data reveal: that nearly all these patients contracted the germ during a previous stay in a hospital or other healthcare facility."
The new APIC survey also sheds light on the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's failure to track the rapid rise in C. diff and other hospital infections.
"APIC, like most organizations connected to the hospital industry, blames C. diff largely on the overuse of antibiotics. But new studies show that people who are not taking antibiotics and have not taken them recently are just as likely to become infected with C. diff," says McCaughey. The real culprit is poor hospital hygiene.
C. diff bacteria contaminate every surface in hospitals, including bed rails, privacy curtains, blood pressure cuffs and faucets. When patients touch these surfaces and then pick up food without washing their hands, they ingest the germ. Routine cleaning isn't enough to protect patients from C. diff. Researchers found that even after rooms are deemed ready for the next patient to be admitted, 78% of surfaces are still contaminated with C. diff. To kill the germ, meticulous cleaning with bleach is needed.