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C. diff is Putting a Pall on My Hospital Holiday

Posted Jan 14 2009 7:45pm

I admit it. This renegade C. diff bug that is running amok in hospitals has me more than a little freaked out. No sooner had I posted to this blog about the uber-nasty germ than I learned I’d be going under the knife for the second time this year. I’m one of the few people around who actually enjoys being a patient in the hospital. During my first hospitalization of the year last January, I embraced the idea of a forced vacation and loved all the amenities of my spacious private room. I fell into the ‘ignorance is bliss’ category because I had never heard of C. diff.

Now, all of that has changed. In the past couple months it seems that every time I open a newspaper, a C. diff-related headline is staring me in the face. I read every article and, believe me, I have been properly sensitized—to the point that I am far more concerned about being ambushed by the little bugger than I am about the surgical procedure I’ll be having. I trust my doctor. I don’t trust C. diff one tiny bit.

The latest news to make my hair stand on end is that researchers determined that following routine cleaning at a hospital, 78 percent of surfaces remained contaminated. That does it! I’m going to the hospital armed—with wipes infused with bleach so I can clean everything around me. My tray table, bed rails, TV remote, call light—and I can’t wait to see my doctor’s face when I clean her stethoscope before I allow her to put it to my chest.

Now I’ve learned that even if I make it out of the hospital uninfected, my vigilance needs to continue once I’m back home. I’m to assume that anything I bring home from the hospital is contaminated. That means I won’t be bringing my cool fat water jug with the bendable straw or the cute pink basin as souvenirs. Any clothing that makes the trip to the hospital and back with me must be immediately laundered—and separately from the family wash. Regular detergent and hot water won’t eradicate the sneaky bug. To kill it dead, bleach is required, which I guess means I should take only white clothing to the hospital.

This is getting complicated but I definitely plan to take all of these precautions and more.

To those of you who are doing daily duty at the bedside, have you seen patients being proactive in the way I plan to be? Are you OK with that? Share your opinions, please.

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