Clostridium difficile (C. difficile)

If your loved one has contracted Clostridium difficile while in a nursing home, it is important that you not sit back and allow any neglect that your loved one may be suffering to continue. The experienced nursing home negligence and neglect attorneys at the Law Offices of Ben Yeroushalmi specialize in this area of law and can be of assistance to you. The best course of action is to find out more about the condition and then speak to an attorney, to discus your case and possible courses of legal action. Contact us at any time and our experienced team of nursing home abuse attorneys will be happy to talk to you about your case in a free consultation.

Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) infections, which cause inflammation of the colon, are unfortunately prevalent in California nursing homes. Symptoms of a C. difficile infection include frequent diarrhea for 2 to 3 days, fever, cramping, loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting. If the infection is severe, blood may be found in feces.

The high incidence of C. difficile infections in skilled nursing facilities is generally due to their residents' age-related changes in fecal flora, immune functions, and underlying chronic diseases that require use of antibiotics. C. difficile infections often occur to residents who have received antibiotic treatment for another medical condition because other bacteria that have been suppressing the C. difficile bacteria in the intestine are killed by antibiotics, allowing the C. difficile population to grow and cause a full blown infection.

For many people, a C. difficile infection can be cured with antibiotics within 10 days. However, for infection control purposes, all symptomatic residents must immediately be isolated until their diarrhea has resolved. Because people can be infected by touching items or surfaces that are contaminated with feces, shared instruments such as toilets, bath tubs, and rectal thermometers must be thoroughly cleansed and decontaminated. This is especially important as C. difficile is quite resistant to chemical disinfection and can survive in the environment for weeks to months. Nursing staff's hand hygiene is thus the key for infection control. Nursing homes need to make sure that all of their staff members follow established hand washing practices to ensure proper hygiene and use gloves when cleaning and caring for infected residents. (More information on infection control procedures is available at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

Despite the elevated risks facing the elderly, C. difficile infections are generally preventable with close monitoring, supervision and proper implementation of infection control programs. Equally important is the nursing staff's ability to deal with the aftermath of a C. difficile infection. Frequent diarrhea means that nurses must be educated on proper incontinence care. The staff must ensure that each resident's dignity is maintained throughout the symptomatic period and that the diapers and bed linens of each patient are consistently and quickly cleaned and changed. Unfortunately, many California nursing home residents suffer greatly from loss of dignity and discomfort when their nursing home does not employ adequate numbers of personnel to efficiently and sympathetically deal with any incontinence events caused by C. difficile infections. Failure by the facility to quickly respond to such incidences leaves patients in unhygienic conditions and places them a risk for further infections and injuries, such as pressure sores.

Outbreaks of C. difficile and other infectious diseases in nursing homes can be very difficult to contain and control, requiring a swift and organized infection control response. This requires both sufficient quarantine space and adequate numbers of trained nursing staff to carry through with all measures. Such preparedness is part of the facility’s responsibility and mandated by the Patients’ Bill of Rights, guaranteeing all nursing home residents to a safe and healthy living environment.

If your loved one has contracted a C. difficile infection, and suffered sever side-effect because of his or her nursing facility’s lack of proper infection control and care, please contact us today. We have a team of attorneys who are experts in elder abuse and nursing home neglect litigation and will do all they can to help your loved one realize the quality of care to which he or she is entitled to by law.