An outbreak of bacteria that spread to about 10 patients at California Pacific Medical Center forced the hospital to evacuate two floors late last month.
Clostridium difficile, more commonly known as C. diff, infected about 10 patients in the acute care facility and prompted the hospital to evacuate two floors in order to sterilize the facility and prevent its spread, CPMC spokesman Kevin McCormack said.
Patients taking antibiotics are highly susceptible to the common bacteria, which can cause diarrhea, fever, loss of appetite, nausea and abdominal pain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Antibiotics are designed to reduce the risk of infection, but they can also kill some of the “healthy” bacteria that fight C. diff, McCormack said.
All of the infected patients were given antibiotics to treat the C. diff infection, and have since recovered, he said.
The two floors were closed for about a week as workers thoroughly disinfected the area using bleach and other noxious chemicals, he said.
Although this is the first time McCormack remembers a C. diff infection that spurred an evacuation in CPMC, he said it is common in hospitals around the nation.
“This is fairly normal thing,” he said. “We’re in the mid to low range (for C. diff outbreaks) compared to other hospitals in the Bay Area.”
The bacteria are shed in feces, and any surface or material can be become a reservoir for the spores, according to the CDC. It is easily transmitted through the air or even by simple contact, such as a handshake, McCormack said.
“We used a strong manner to stop the spread of C. diff, and we were successful,” he said.
After the outbreak, the staff underwent retraining about the importance of gloves, gowns and masks to prevent infection.
“Hand washing is the simple, most effective way to minimize the risk,” McCormack added.
Rachel Purdy, Bay City News