Preventing Clostridium difficile infections 

Clostridium difficile bacteria can spread easily, particularly in healthcare environments such as a hospital or care home.

It may not be possible to prevent the bacteria spreading altogether, but a number of precautions can be taken to reduce the risk of infection.

Advice for visitors

If you are visiting a person in a healthcare environment who has diarrhoea or a stomach upset, try to avoid taking any children under the age of 12 with you.

You should also:

  • wash your hands with soap and water when entering and leaving ward areas, especially after using the toilet or before eating
  • avoid healthcare environments if you are feeling unwell or have recently had diarrhoea
  • observe visiting hours and all visiting guidelines

Healthcare environment 

Healthcare workers should wear disposable gloves and aprons when caring for anyone who has a C. difficile infection. Whenever possible, people who are infected with C. difficile should have their own room and toilet facilities to avoid passing the infection on to others.

Staff, patients and visitors should be encouraged to wash their hands regularly and thoroughly. Alcohol hand gel is not effective against C. difficile spores, so the use of soap and water is essential.

Surfaces that may have come into contact with the bacteria or spores, such as toilets, the floor around toilets, bedpans and beds, should also be cleaned thoroughly with water and a suitable cleaning product. Products containing bleach, hypochlorite or other sporicidal agents have been shown to be effective.

Page last reviewed: 22/04/2014

Next review due: 22/04/2016