The Philadelphia Inquirer recently reported that Holy Redeemer Hospital in Meadowbrook, Pa., cut its incidence of Clostridium difficile by two-thirds after its nutritionists began encouraging hospitalized patients with orders for antibiotics for more than one day to eat a widely available brand of yogurt.2 Seventy-five C. diff cases were reported in the hospital during 2011 and only 23 in 2012. The facility won an innovation award for the program from the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania.
Other hospitals dispense probiotic dietary supplements, shown to have benefits against C. diff, in granular form. Medical experts have expressed skepticism that dispensing yogurt made the difference in cutting C. diff infections, arguing that there has not been enough research yet to support its widespread implementation in hospital settings.
Nationally, 337,000 cases of C. diff are reported in hospitals each year. A recent study reports that its spores are still commonly carried on the hands of healthcare workers who rubbed alcohol on their hands shortly after providing routine care to patients.3 Risk factors independently associated with hand contamination among healthcare workers in the exposed group included high-risk contacts and at least one contact without the use of gloves.
Larry Beresford is a freelance writer in Alameda, Calif.
- Bailey FA, Williams BR, Woodby LL, et al. Intervention to improve care at life's end in inpatient settings: The BEACON trial. J Gen Intern Med. 2014;29(6):836-843.
- Burling S. Yogurt a solution to hospital infection? Philadelphia Inquirer website. December 10, 2013. Available at: http://articles.philly.com/2013-12-10/news/44946926_1_holy-redeemer-probiotics-yogurt. Accessed June 5, 2014.
- Landelle C, Verachten M, Legrand P, Girou E, Barbut F, Buisson CB. Contamination of healthcare workers’ hands with Clostridium difficile spores after caring for patients with C. difficile infection. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2014;35(1):10-15.
- Lewis K, Walker C. Development and application of information technology solutions to improve the quality and availability of discharge summaries. Journal of Hospital Medicine RIV abstracts website. Available at: http://www.shmabstracts.com/abstract.asp?MeetingID=793&id=104276&meeting=JHM201305. Published May 2013. Accessed June 14, 2014.
- Snow V, Beck D, Budnitz T, et al. Transitions of Care Consensus Policy Statement. American College of Physicians; Society of General Internal Medicine; Society of Hospital Medicine; American Geriatrics Society; American College of Emergency Physicians; Society of Academic Emergency Medicine. J Gen Intern Med. 2009;24(8):971-976.
- American Hospital Association: Uncompensated hospital care cost fact sheet. January 2014. Available at: http://www.aha.org/content/14/14uncompensatedcare.pdf. Accessed June 5, 2014.