C. Diff: The Perfect Storm

by Erica Mitchell | November 13 2019

You are a patient in the hospital, recovering from a surgical procedure. You are put on antibiotics to prevent infection, and everything seems fine. That is, until you begin to get sick. Not from your surgery, but from abdominal pain, fever, cramping, and terrible diarrhea. Your doctor informs you that you have become infected with Clostridium difficile. Now you are not only trying to recover from your surgery, you are also trying to fight off the leading cause of hospital-acquired infection death. How did this happen? What is C. diff doing to your body? Today we’ll explore the disease that has hospitals and long-term care facilities desperate to find solutions: Clostridium difficile colitis.


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Clostridium difficile: An Introduction

by Erica Mitchell | November 6 2019

C. diff, or Clostridium difficile, is a Gram-positive, rod-shaped, anaerobic, endosporic, toxigenic, opportunistic, bacillus. Its scientific description makes it sound like a pretty standard bacteria. But this bacteria "causes almost half a million illnesses in the United States each year" according to the CDC. November is C. diff Awareness Month so stick with us all month to learn more about this microorganism and the unique attributes that make it so lethal. Today’s post will explore the basic definition of Clostridium difficile. First, let’s unpack that long list of terms mentioned above.

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We Only Have One Chance: One Mom's Battle Against Cancer and Infection (Part 2)

by Erica Mitchell | September 18 2019

Our earlier post gave us a glimpse into the life of a mom responding to the shocking diagnosis of cancer in her three-year-old son, Jack. This concluding segment will explore the result of her unrelenting fight against infection as she did everything possible to help her son survive, and the lasting impact that experience has had on her life the life of her son.

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3 Major Innovations on the Long Road to Hospital Infection Control

by Erica Mitchell | June 21 2019

We know a lot (or actually most) of our posts about infection and hospitals can be terrifying. But here's some good news: A least you don't live in the time before antibiotics and infection control!

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How do Germs Spread?

by Erica Mitchell | June 14 2019

Germ theory, the idea that infection is caused by microscopic organisms unseen to the naked eye, is only a few hundred years old. This theory focuses on three main components.

  1. The reservoir: The person, animal, or surface that carries the infection.
  2. The mode of transmission: Via direct contact, a droplet of liquid, airborne, a vector (such as an insect), or a vehicle (food or surface)
  3. The susceptible host: A person and his/her ports of entry (nose, mouth, incision, medical device, wound)

But the paths from the reservoir to the susceptible host seem infinite. To narrow down the steps needed to prove this relationship between contaminated rooms and infected patients, researchers have proposed routes of transmission that could account for a relationship. Here are two proposals, both of which demonstrate the critical role played by surfaces in the transmission of pathogens.

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What is the National Healthcare Safety Network?

by Erica Mitchell | June 9 2017

If you spend any time at all in the world of infection control and prevention, you've run across the NHSN, or National Healthcare Safety Network. Those of us who are not directly involved with infection control, however, may lack a full understanding of what the NHSN truly is. Today's post is for those of us who work on the periphery of infection control efforts: An introduction to the NHSN.

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3 Keys to Measuring the Cost-Effectiveness of an HAI Reduction Intervention: Part 2

by Erica Mitchell | April 28 2017

When considering an infection prevention intervention, how should the costs calculated? The first question should be what costs should be calculated? With the myriad of direct, indirect, and intangiable costs related to HAIs, where is a facility to start? There are several types of costs to be taken into consideration, and each type will come from different sources. In this post, we will explore how a facility may collect cost data when evaluating a potential new infection intervention.

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3 Keys to Measuring the Cost Effectiveness of an HAI Reduction Intervention: Part 1

by Erica Mitchell | April 14 2017

Any time a healthcare facility considers investing in a new intervention - a medicine, a device, a piece of equipment, and even a training program - one of the first considerations will be cost effectiveness. The facility has a responsibility, both financial and ethical, to weigh the cost of investment with the likelihood and extent of patient benefits. We would all love to live in a world where hospitals could invest in any and all interventions without thought as to cost and return on investment. Instead, we face a reality in which not only are financial resources limited, but also personnel, space, and even time are constrained. As a result, when millions of dollars and patients' lives are at stake, calculating cost effectiveness of an intervention has a lot on the line.

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The Dirt on Garden Bacteria

by Erica Mitchell | March 24 2017

As winter ends and spring begins to arrive (and stay), many of us will find ourselves elbow-deep in soil, getting our gardens ready for the season. While we are selecting our annuals, clearing out weeds, and picking out our vegetable plants, there is an army of workers already at work in our gardens: Bacteria. Billions and billions in one handful, these microscopic organisms are performing essential actions that enables us to grow a beautiful garden and grow nutritious food. Today we will explore these unseen workers and how, depending on where they are, they can be either life-sustaining or life-threatening.

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Black History Month: 5 Health Care Highlights

by Erica Mitchell | February 22 2017

The history of African-Americans health care is replete with stories of both tragedy and triumph. From the horrific conditions of slavery, through the centuries leading to the Civil Rights Era, to today's freedoms and hopes, our nation has been formed and transformed by our shared experiences. Today's post shares just a few of those experiences that focus on health care. Join us as we explore how extraordinary challenges and obstacles impacted both access to health care and opportunity in health care professions, and how the work continues today to achieve equality.
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