Infection Control Manual

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Page updated 5th March 2007

4.0. Surveillance for Clostridium difficile

Infections are broadly classified as "community acquired" i.e. confirmed within 72 hours of admissions and "hospital acquired", confirmed after 72 hours of admission. Cases may arise from the patients own "endogenous" flora or from cross infection - "exogenous". Infection control is the key to minimise the development of carriage. Antibiotic management is the way to reduce disease.

The infection control and microbiology department monitor and record C. difficile results. Monitoring is undertaken for national surveillance which is reported to the Health Protection Agency. Where numbers of cases exceed the expected norm for an area, the infection control team will initiate an investigation.

Unless it is reported to the infection control team, increased or unexpected numbers of diarrhoea cases will not be obvious to infection control or microbiology. It is therefore important that all staff are alert to increases in the number of patients with diarrhoea and report these suspicions to the infection control team who will investigate. (see Outbreak Management)