Clostridium Difficile: Balancing Hope and Danger
One of the most jarring experiences one can have is a stay in the hospital. A strange bed, nurses and doctors constantly coming in and going out of your room, enforced roommates, and more. But discomfort and illness are not the only reasons to dislike the hospital. It not at all uncommon for those receiving in-patient treatment to leave the hospital with more afflictions than when they arrived. One of these is a disease called C. diff. and it may be a sign of neglect.
Clostridium difficile is a bacterium that can take hold in the intestines. The intestines of a healthy person have all manner of bacteria inside. Some are harmful, but others are beneficial. These good bacteria keep the bad bacteria in check, providing a balance that maintains the health of the patient. Many times, however, patients require antibiotics to treat their illnesses. Antibiotics kill bacteria, and they do not differentiate between harmful and beneficial bacteria. As a result, the good bacteria die off. This is usually not a problem, as the good and the bad would be killed in equal measure, and the balance would be more or less maintained.
Unfortunately, C. diff is resistant to certain types of antibiotics, and thus can survive treatment and cause an imbalance. Once C. diff is introduced to the intestines, it releases a toxin that eats away at the intestine’s lining. As the Mayo Clinic explains, symptoms of C. diff can be as mild as diarrhea. However, if left untreated, C. diff can result in fever, inflammation of the intestines (colitis), perforation of the intestines, kidney failure, or death.
C. diff is most often contracted within hospitals and nursing homes. While it predominantly affects the elderly and others with compromised immune systems, diagnosis amongst young and otherwise healthy people is on the rise. Within a hospital setting, doctors and nurses need to be aware of the risk factors and the signs of C. diff infection. At the first sign of symptoms, a doctor should order a test of the stool of the patient to begin treatment immediately. Failure to timely diagnose and begin treating C. diff may make the doctor, nurse, or hospital liable for malpractice.
Medical Treatment Should Be Provided Quickly
There are a number of treatments for C. diff, with varying levels of success. The most immediate thing a doctor can do to treat it is to change the prescription of antibiotics. C. diff is more susceptible to some antibiotics than others, and changing the prescription can help arrest the development of the infection. Another treatment is replacing the beneficial bacteria in the gut. There are different ways to replace the bacteria, ranging from eating probiotics like yogurt to taking pills derived from the feces of other human patients. Clinical studies have begun on treatment based on a virus that has been discovered to specifically target the C. diff bacterium.
Until C. diff is cured, the treatments available help to reduce the risk of injury. However, the risk is present and is becoming more serious as diseases become increasingly antibiotic-resistant. An experienced nursing home abuse lawyer can evaluate your case and determine whether you were injured based on the negligence of a hospital’s or nursing home’s staff. If you or someone you know has been injured by C. diff, contact Robert Rooth today at (847) 869-9100.