Clostridium Difficile Infection

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Clostridium difficile infection, or C. difficile, is an infection in your colon caused by bacteria. Different types of bacteria live inside the colon, creating a healthy balance between good and bad bacteria. If the C. difficile bacteria grow rapidly, this can disrupt the healthy balance of the colon. This can cause the lining of the colon to swell, which leads to an infection.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

  • You are at risk of dehydration if diarrhea and vomiting causes you to lose too much fluid. Fluid loss can also decrease or increase the amount of electrolytes in your body. This can cause seizures or problems with how your heart works. Your blood pressure may drop too low and you may faint. These problems can be life-threatening. Medicine used to treat C. difficile infection may cause vomiting, mouth irritation, or skin rashes. The medicine may not kill your C. difficile bacteria. Even after being treated for C. difficile infection, there is a risk, especially among older adults, of getting the infection again.

  • Without treatment, C. difficile can lead to sepsis (blood infection), or an enlarged colon. Your colon may get damaged, or your kidneys may stop working. The risk of serious or life-threatening problems from C. difficile infection is greater if you already have other medical problems.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Intake and output:

Caregivers will keep track of the amount of liquid you are getting. They also may need to know how much you are urinating. Ask how much liquid you should drink each day. Ask caregivers if they need to measure or collect your urine.

An IV

is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

Contact isolation:

Measures will be taken to help prevent the C. difficile infection from spreading to other people. These measures are called contact precautions. Caregivers will wear gloves and a gown. Everyone should wash their hands with germ-killing soap after touching you or leaving your room. You may be in a room by yourself, and things that you use will not be shared with others.

Tests:

You may need one or more of the following tests:

  • Stool tests: A sample of your stool is sent to a lab for testing. This test helps caregivers learn what treatment is best for you.

  • Blood tests: You may need blood taken for tests. The blood can be taken from a blood vessel in your hand, arm, or the bend in your elbow. Blood tests can show signs of infection in your body or bloodstream.

  • Colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy: A scope is a long, bendable tube with a light on the end. The scope may also have a camera on it. During a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy, the scope is put into your anus and moved forward into your large colon. With these tests, caregivers can look for problems, take pictures, and collect samples that are sent to the lab for tests.

  • Computerized tomography scan: This test is also called a CT scan. An x-ray machine uses a computer to take pictures of your abdomen and intestines. Before taking the pictures, you may be given dye through an IV. The dye helps your colon show up better in the pictures. People who are allergic to shellfish (lobster, crab, or shrimp) may be allergic to this dye. Tell your caregiver if you are allergic to any of these.

Treatment:

  • Medicines:

    • Antibiotics: Antibiotic medicine is used to treat an infection caused by bacteria. You may have been taking antibiotics before getting the C. difficile infection. If so, caregivers will stop giving you that antibiotic. You may need to take a different type of antibiotic to treat your C. difficile infection.

    • Immune globulin medicine: Immune globulin may be used to treat severe (very bad) C. difficile infection. You may need it to help your immune system fight infection.

  • Surgery:

    • If your C. difficile is severe or has damaged your colon, you may need surgery. This surgery is called subtotal colectomy. During surgery, part of your colon is removed. Ask caregivers for more information if you need this surgery.


© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Clostridium Difficile Infection (Inpatient Care)

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