The Scary Truth About C. Difficile: It Isn't Just Found In Hospitals

It's a common misconception that C. difficile, commonly referred to as "C. diff," is typically spread in hospitals. It's true that hospital patients and employees are at risk of C. diff exposure, but statistics from The Centers for Disease Control show that more than 80% of exposure reports involve patients who recently visited a dental office or a non-hospital healthcare provider. If you work in a medical office, it's important to keep your patient-care area clean and sanitized so you can reduce the risk of this dangerous bacteria spreading.

What is C. diff?

C. diff is an intestinal bacteria that can trigger a fatal reaction as the body attempts to fend off the deadly organisms.

Symptoms include:

  • Severe pain in the abdomen
  • Bloody bowel movements
  • Watery diarrhea that occurs frequently
  • Lack of appetite

Left untreated, C. diff can cause severe dehydration that weakens the body and negatively impacts the function of the immune system. 

How is C. diff spread?

Individuals affected with C. diff can spread it via skin-to-skin contact. It can also be spread by unknowingly touching contaminated surfaces, such as bathroom sinks or shared medical equipment. Sanitize your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if you suspect you have been exposed to patients with C. diff during your workday.

Who is most likely to get C. diff?

Patients who are over the age of 65 or individuals with kidney disease or colon issues have a higher chance of contracting C. diff than healthy, younger patients. However, C. diff affects people of all ages, including children.

How long do C. diff spores survive?

C. diff spores can survive on a hard surface for as long as 5 months, so it's essential that you thoroughly clean exam rooms and restrooms at your medical or dental office. Do not reuse medical equipment, such as thermometers or gowns, without sanitizing them first.

How do you kill C. diff spores?

According to the C. Diff Foundation, you should mix 8 cups of water with 1 cup of bleach. Put on gloves, and apply the mixture to hard surfaces in your office. Let the mixture sit for at least 5 minutes before rinsing with clean water. Let the solution air dry after you rinse it.

How can you make sure cleaning gets done?

Hire a janitorial crew. Companies that offer janitorial services can visit your medical office on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis to help you tackle the risk of C. diff exposure. Explain that you need your office thoroughly sanitized to protect the health of your staff and patients, and an experienced janitorial company will happily comply.

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