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MGH Hotline 4.3.09 Health care workers know that using an alcohol-based hand rub such as Cal Stat both before and after contact with a patient or a patient’s environment is a fast and effective way to reduce health care-associatedinfections.

Contact precautions plus

03/Apr/2009

Health care workers know that using an alcohol-based hand rub such as Cal Stat both before and after contact with a patient or a patient’s environment is a fast and effective way to reduce health care-associatedinfections. In some cases, however, additional precautionary measures are required. While Cal Stat is most effective for routine hand hygiene, hand washing with soap and water followed by Cal Stat use is necessary when dealing with a pathogen known as Clostridium difficile, or “C. diff.”

Like most pathogens, C. diff can cause infection and illness. But C. diff is more complex; it can form spores that are able to survive on environmental surfaces for a long period of time. It can also be resistant to some disinfectants – including alcohol, which is the active ingredient in Cal Stat.

“Because of these unique properties, patients who have a known C. diff infection are placed on ‘Contact Precautions Plus,’” says David Hooper, MD, chief of the MGH Infection Control Unit. “With this special status, additional steps are required for hand hygiene and general cleaning. In this case, hand washing with soap and water is required following contact with the patient or the patient’s environment – even after gloves are worn and removed – to physically remove any spores that may be present. Hands should then be dried thoroughly and Cal Stat applied to kill any remaining germs. Special room cleaning measures, such as the use of a bleach-based cleaner, are also required to destroy spores that may be present.”

For more information on C. diff and “Contact Precautions Plus,” call the Infection Control Unit at (617) 726-2036.

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