Clostridium difficile - Prevention 

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 cleaning product that contains bleach.

Page last reviewed: 22/04/2014

Next review due: 22/04/2016


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The 3 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Gwenrose said on 18 January 2014

I was admitted to Maidstone Hospital Kent on the 13th January for a Laparoscopic Nissen Fundoplication and discharged on the 15th, although I had Diarrhoea and felt unwell. My local doctor visited me on the 16th and confirmed I had fluid on the lungs, even though I told him I had diarrhoea and was not even to keep water soup in, he gave me Erythromycin. I have now had to contact an out of hours doctor and been told to stop the Erythromycin and contact my surgery on Monday to have a stool sample taken and checked for Clostridium difficile, as it looks likely I was discharged from hospital with it. As this is major surgery to my stomach and I can only digest liquid food for the first two weeks after surgery, this infection should have been considered. I am now feeling very weak and have been unable to sustain any nutrition, since the 13th January. I have contacted Maidstone Hospital who advised me that it might be better to attend an A & E department due to being dehydrated. This would then bring me in contact with other sick patients. What's the point of teaching and cleaning when a patient shows signs of this infection and they just discharge you from the hospital to become more ill at home. So far, this is my experience of Maidstone hospital.

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meliagante said on 13 September 2013

I visited my elderly mother last night and was told that she had C Diff and to observe good hand hygiene... unfortunately, we were not told that the hand gel provided would not be enough to kill the spores!
Thus all the meticulous use of hand gel that we thought would be sufficient to protect us was to no avail and we only double checked on C Diff on the Internet upon our return home, by which time we had had something to eat.
Obviously we are rather upset about this and would like to ask that this is made more explicit to visitors.

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User527770 said on 10 February 2011

I work in a nhs hospital, and have had a case of C diff, i was told the room had to be cleaned thoroughly,i.e curtians down, but when i mentioned the tie baxks had not been taken down all i got was a shrug of the shoulders, i think this is a disgrace and will take it further, my point is if one person is doing this how many more is there,

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