Clostridium difficile associated disease (also sometimes referred to as C. diff or C. difficile) is a bacterial infection that can lead to serious intestinal conditions and diarrhea. This infection is responsible for three million annual cases of colitis and diarrhea in the United States alone.
C. difficile is a naturally occurring infection and it is also present in the large intestine within a relatively small percentage of the healthy population (estimates place it at less than three percent). The majority of people who are exposed to C. difficile do not have any negative effects because their immune system can help protect their body from the infection.
Problems facing the elderly
However, the majority of patients living in a nursing home are not in great health. Alternative, they may be taking antibiotics to treat infections. While antibiotics may kill current infections, they also take some of the healthy bacteria with it. As a result, the C. difficile can easily take hold within these patients, which leads to a C. difficile infection.
Once a C. difficile infection begins to strengthen inside the patient, it will start to produce toxins. These toxins cause patches or plaques of inflammatory cells, kill interior cells, and attack the lining of the intestine. Recently found strains of C. difficile are even more aggressive. They lead to an increased production of these harmful toxins. Even more problematic is the fact that this new strain does not respond to medication as the previous strains did.
The signs and symptoms
The reason that C. difficile can be very dangerous to already weakened patients is because it may dehydrate them.
Signs and symptoms of mild to moderate cases:
- Low-grade fever
- Mild abdominal cramping and tenderness
- Watery diarrhea, three or more times per day, lasting more than two or more days at a time
Severe cases of C. difficile may lead to inflammation of the colon (colitis) or patches of raw tissues that may be filled with pus or even bleed (pseudomembranous colitis). The signs and symptoms of the more serious cases include:
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Blood or pus in stool
- High fever
- Severe abdominal pain and tenderness
- Watery diarrhea that occurs ten to fifteen times a day
Prevention and proper care
There is no denying that the elderly face an elevated risk of contracting C. difficile. However, with the proper implementation of infection control programs, supervision, and close monitoring of the residents, it is generally preventable.
It is also important that the nursing staff is capable of dealing with the aftermath of a patient recovering from a C. difficile infection. It is important that the nursing home staff understands proper incontinence care to deal with the frequent diarrhea problems. Furthermore, it is especially important that the resident’s dignity be maintained throughout the process. This means quickly changing and cleaning the bed linens of every patient struggling with a C. difficile infection.
Receiving the proper attention
Unfortunately, many nursing home residents feel as though they experience discomfort or lose their dignity when struggling with a C. difficile infection in a nursing home. Oftentimes the facility does not provide an adequate number of staff members, thus leaving patients in unsanitary conditions and putting them at greater risk for additional injury and infections such as pressure sores.
Considering that C. difficile is infectious, it requires a swift and organized infection response in order to contain and control the infection. This means adequately trained staff members have to respond. If you feel that someone close to you got sick because of negligence of the nursing home, the only thing you can do to enact change is hold that facility accountable.
C. Diff Lawyers For Families
Losing a loved one to and undiagnosed or untreated case of c. diff can be heartbreaking in light of the fact that the overwhelming majority of cases could be treated with basic medication. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers has successfully litigated wrongful death cases involve c. difficile. We have an established way to litigate and win these potentially difficult cases. We are ready to work with your family. (888) 424-5757