Often, the focus of medical education is on clinical diagnosis and management of disease. But what about prevention? Prevention is key. Here are some ways for both the patient and healthcare provider to prevent further infections:
- Reduce transmission as much as possible
- Wash hands with soap and water after leaving the room of a patient with active C. difficile infection (CDI) OR use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if a sink is not available
- Advocate healthcare facilities to:
- place sinks nearby patient rooms
- consider sink placement in the future construction of healthcare facilities
- Educate your patients and those who live with them to:
- wash their hands well after using the toilet
- have infected individuals use separate toilets and toilet accessories during treatment, if possible
- Avoid unnecessary antibiotic use
- Avoid prescribing an antibiotic if low likelihood of bacterial infection
- Narrow broad-spectrum antibiotics as soon as possible
- Discontinue antibiotics as soon as possible
- Consider prophylactic PO vancomycin for patients with history of recurrent C. difficile infection
- A retrospective review demonstrated that administration of PO vancomycin 125mg twice a day was associated with a lower incidence of recurrent C. difficile infection (4.2% vs. 26.6%, p<0.001)3
- Educate yourself on the risks and benefits of probiotic use and be able to relay that information to your patients if they ask.
- Some studies show no reduction in incidence of C. difficile infection with probiotic use6,7
- Other studies (including a Cochrane review) show significant reduction in C. difficile infection incidence with probiotic use8,9,10,11
- Studies have demonstrated that probiotics are more likely to reduce C. difficile infection incidence:
- in patients with a baseline risk of C. difficile infection > 5%8,9
- when probiotics are administered at higher doses10
- when the probiotic consists of multiple strains10
- when probiotics were administered within 2 days of antibiotic initiation11
- This is the IDSA Clinical Practice Guidelines for C. difficile infection statement on probiotics:
“There are insufficient data at this time to recommend administration of probiotics for primary prevention of CDI outside of clinical trials (no recommendation).”
The guidelines cite the bias towards probiotics in many trials that enrolled mostly patients at very high risk of C.difficile infection and the potential for probiotics to cause harm by introducing new infections to hospitalized patients.
Any prevention strategies I didn’t mention? What do you think is the most effective prevention strategy? I would love to hear your thoughts!
- McDonald LC, Gerding DN, Johnson S, et al. Clinical Practice Guidelines for Clostridium difficile Infection in Adults and Children: 2017 Update by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA). Clin Infect Dis. 2018; 66(7):1-48.
- Jorgensen JH, Pfaller MA, Carroll KC, et al. Manual of Clinical Microbiology, Eleventh Edition.
- Van Hise NW, Bryant AM, Hennessey EK, et al. Efficacy of Oral Vancomycin in Preventing Recurrent Clostridium difficile Infection in Patients Treated With Systemic Antimicrobial Agents. Clin Infect Dis. 2016; 63(5):651-653.
- Kelly CP, Lamont JT, and Bakken JS. Clostridium difficile infection in adults: Treatment and prevention. In Baron EL, ed. UpToDate. Waltham, Mass.: UpToDate, 2018. [https://www.uptodate.com/contents/clostridium-difficile-infection-in-adults-treatment-and-prevention]. Accessed May 25, 2018.
- Davidson LE and Hibberd PL. Clostridioides difficile and probiotics. In Baron EL, ed. UpToDate. Waltham, Mass.: UpToDate, 2018. [https://www.uptodate.com/contents/clostridioides-formerly-clostridium-difficile-and-probiotics]. Accessed Nov 13, 2018.
- Allen SJ, Wareham K, Wang D, Bradley C, Hutchings H, Harris W, et al. Lactobacilli and bifidobacteria in the prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhoea and Clostridium difficile diarrhoea in older inpatients (PLACIDE): a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicentre trial. Lancet. 2013; 382(9900): 1249-57.
- Ehrhardt S, Guo N, Hinz R, Schoppen S, May J, Reiser M, et al. Saccharomyces boulardii to Prevent Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea: A Randomized, Double-Masked, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Open Forum Infect Dis. 2016; 3(1):ofw011.
- Goldenberg JZ, Yap C, Lytvyn L, Lo CK, Beardsley J, Mertz D, et al. Probiotics for the prevention of Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea in adults and children. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017; 12:CD006095.
- Johnston BC, Lytvyn L, Lo CK, Allen SJ, Wang D, Szajewska H, et al. Microbial Preparations (Probiotics) for the Prevention of Clostridium difficile Infection in Adults and Children: An Individual Patient Data Meta-analysis of 6,851 Participants. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2018; 39(7): 771-781.
- Johnston BC, Ma SSY, Goldenberg JZ, Thorlung K, Vandvik PO, Loeb M, et al. Probiotics for the Prevention of Clostridium difficile-Associated Diarrhea. Ann of Intern Med. 2012; 157:878-888
- Shen NT, Maw A, Tmanova LL, Pino A, Ancy K, Crawford CV, et al. Timely Use of Probiotics in Hospitalized Adults Prevents Clostridium difficle Infection: A Systematic Review With Meta-Regression Analysis. Gastroenterology. 2017; 152(8): 1889-1900.