Actions to stop the spread of the intestinal superbug Clostridium difficile are on the rise, but they are not yielding large improvements, according to a survey from the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.

While 70 percent of infection preventionists have adopted additional interventions in their health care facilities to address C. diff since March 2010, only 42 percent have seen a decline in health care-associated C. diff rates during that time period and 43 percent have not seen a decline. As rates climbed to all-time highs in recent years, only 21 percent of respondents said their facilities have added more infection prevention staff to address the problem.

The survey found an inconsistency between cleaning efforts and monitoring. More than 90 percent of respondents have increased emphasis on environmental cleaning and equipment decontamination practices since March 2010, but 64 percent said they rely on observation vs. more accurate and reliable monitoring technology to assess cleaning effectiveness. Fourteen percent said room cleaning was not monitored.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths related to C. diff increased 400 percent between 2000 and 2007, due in part to a stronger germ strain. It is estimated to add at least $1 billion annually to U.S. health care costs.

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