Norton Healthcare nurses and other essential care team members are pulling no punches to protect patients from Clostridium difficile. This tough opponent — commonly known as C. diff — is a source of many health care-associated infections. It’s also linked to many life-threatening cases of sepsis.

C. diff is a contagious, potentially dangerous bacterium. It can be spread person to person or by coming in contact with contaminated items such as cellphones, door handles and clothing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls C. diff a “major health threat.” In 2015, it caused nearly half a million infections among patients in the United States, according to CDC estimates.

Pamela J. Isaacs, BSN, MHA, system director, Infection Prevention and Employee Health, said all Norton Healthcare inpatient units are stepping up their fight against C. diff.

When this type of infection is identified, a patient’s bedside nurse, the unit’s nurse manager and an infection prevention specialist act immediately. They work together to assess the patient and care environment, then provide critical training and feedback to staff and other caregivers.

Focused education and training are producing impressive results in three key practices:

  • Paying close attention to patients’ bowel habits and changes
  • Identifying patients with a history of C. diff infection and initiating isolation as needed
  • Complying strictly with all hand hygiene protocols

Norton Healthcare uses CDC tools and analysis of electronic health records to track and report infection rates and outcomes. Progress is measured against our own past performance and other comparable hospitals nationwide.

Pam said the evidence-based protocols being used tie into our Reaching for Zero patient safety initiative launched in 2017.

“The closer to zero we get means the more we’re preventing further illness and infections for our patients,” she said. “This is one way we create great human interactions with those under our care.”