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  • Clostridium Difficile: Questions and Answers

  • What is the difference between C. difficile colonization and C. difficile disease?

    • C. difficile colonization occurs when you have C. difficile in your intestines but do not suffer any symptoms. C. difficile disease occurs when you have C. difficile in your intestines and have diarrhea.

    If I have C. difficile, can it be spread to others?

    • C. difficile is spread by stool. Any surface that becomes contaminated with stool may spread the disease. It can be spread from patient to patient on the hands of hospital staff, or from items that are used on or by more than one person.

    Why do I have to be in isolation if I have C. difficile disease?

    • At Rhode Island Hospital, we place patients who have C. difficile disease in isolation to stop the spread of the disease. All hospital staff must wear gowns and gloves when they enter your room so they will not get C. difficile on their clothes or hands. All persons who enter your room must wash their hands with soap and water or clean them with alcohol gel before entering and upon leaving. All equipment that is used for your care must stay in your room or be cleaned before it is taken out and used on another patient. Regular linens and dishes are used because dishes and linen from all patients are treated as if they are contaminated.

    Can I leave my room if I have C. difficile disease?

    • You may leave your room for testing. If the doctor allows you to leave your bed and you do not have diarrhea, you may walk in the hall if you wash your hands with soap and water or clean them with alcohol gel before you leave the room and you wear a clean gown. Please do not sit in the lounge or waiting areas.

    May I have visitors if I have C. difficile disease?

    • Your family and friends may visit if you have C. difficile disease. Your visitors have the option of wearing gowns and gloves, but they may not leave your room while wearing them. Visitors may not use your bathroom. Before they leave, visitors must dispose of their gowns and gloves in your room and wash their hands with soap and water.

    Can I go home if I have C. difficile disease?

    • You can go home with C difficile. Proper hand washing and good personal hygiene are the best ways to prevent the spread of this germ. A diluted household bleach solution works well for cleaning environmental surfaces that may be contaminated with C. difficile.