Share this site! The Safe Patient Project is a Consumers Union campaign focused on eliminating medical harm, improving FDA oversight of prescription drugs and promoting disclosure laws that give information to consumers about health care safety and quality.

Archive for C. diff

Click here for State Disclosure Reports

Consumers Union Documents

Blog Posts

  • Cliff Sniffs C.diff

    Last week an interesting study from the Netherlands demonstrated that a dog trained in detection was able to sniff out the presence of Clostridium difficile superbug (aka, c.difficile or c.diff) in hospital patients.

  • Too many people harmed by C. diff infections – Hospitals need to clean up their act

    Deadly C. diff infections, mainly contracted in hospitals, nursing homes and other health care facilities, are skyrocketing in the US. So why is the medical community doing so little to stop it? Watch and share this heartbreaking story showing the damage this infection can inflict and read the shocking new USA Today report for more Continue Reading

  • CDC warns the public about deadly C. diff infections, patient safety advocates react

    14,000 Americans die every year from diarrhea-causing C. difficile (or C. diff for short) infections and 337,000 people are hospitalized, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unlike other healthcare-associated infections that have been on the decline over the past decade, C. diff infection rates and deaths climbed to Continue Reading

  • California Releases New Report on Hospital Infection Rates

    A report by the California Department of Public Health, makes California a national leader on public reporting of infections.

  • “It’s not just statistics…it’s somebody’s Mom”

    Hospital infections leave a lasting impact on the individuals and families who had to experience them. For Mary Brennan-Taylor, hospital infections took the life of her mother, Alice Brennan, who passed away in 2009 after entering the hospital for pain and swelling in her leg.

News Articles

  • CDC Director: Hospital infections down but still deadly, dangerous
    Source: FoxNews (Wednesday March 26, 2014)

    CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden writes a piece for FoxNews on the dangers of hospital infections. The CDC released a progress report on hospital infections today that found some progress in reducing hospital infections but more work needs to be done. Dr. Frieden shares five patient stories on hospital infections, including stories from advocates in Consumers Union’s Safe Patient Project network.

  • C. diff in Our Kids: A Call to Action
    Source: CDC (Friday March 7, 2014)

    Guest blog post for CDC by Christian Lillis, co-founder of the NY-based patient safety organization, Peggy Lillis Foundation. Christian is a member of CU’s Safe Patient Project activist network.

  • Severe diarrheal illness in children linked to antibiotics prescribed in doctor’s offices
    Source: CDC (Friday March 7, 2014)

    “The majority of pediatric Clostridium difficile infections, which are bacterial infections that cause severe diarrhea and are potentially life-threatening, occur among children in the general community who recently took antibiotics prescribed in doctor’s offices for other conditions, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published this week in Pediatrics. “

  • Most child C. diff cases arise from outpatient treatment
    Source: Modern Healthcare (Friday March 7, 2014)

    New study in Pediatrics found that 71% of the 944 cases of Clostridium difficile, a bacterial infection that causes severe diarrhea, that occurred between January 2010 and December 2011 in children ages 17 and under were identified to have received antibiotics in a community health setting, such as a doctor’s office. By contrast, two-thirds of adult cases of C. difficile occur in an inpatient setting.

  • CDC: Antibiotic Overuse Can Be Lethal
    Source: Wall Street Journal (Tuesday March 4, 2014)

    The overuse of antibiotics in U.S. hospitals is putting patients at risk and helping to fuel the creation of deadly superbugs, according to a government report released Tuesday. NY patient safety advocate and member of CU’s Safe Patient Project network, Mary Brennan-Taylor, quoted. Mary lost her mother in 2009 after she was diagnosed with multiple hospital infections.

  • Action C difficile video featuring actor Stéphane E. Roy
    Source: YouTube (Wednesday January 22, 2014)

    Powerful video by a Canadian actor who lost his mother to c diff.

  • Presentation by Kevin Kavanagh before the Kentucky House Health & Welfare Committee: Public Reporting of Healthcare Associated Infections
    Source: Health Watch USA (Friday January 10, 2014)

    Link to the testimony video and PowerPoint Slides from Kevin Kavanagh’s presentation on hospital acquired infections and multi-drug resistant organisms to the Kentucky House Health and Welfare Cmt. Jan. 9, 2014.

  • Study Shows Healthcare Workers' Hands Contaminated with C. difficile After Routine Care
    Source: Infection Control Today (Tuesday December 17, 2013)

    “A new study finds nearly 1 in 4 healthcare workers’ hands were contaminated with Clostridium difficile spores after routine care of patients infected with the bacteria. “

  • Superbugs stalk Hub hospitals
    Source: Boston Herald (Tuesday December 31, 2014)

    Boston Herald reports: “The federal government’s first release of data detailing the spread of deadly, antibiotic-resistant superbugs shows that even in and around Boston’s health-care mecca, hospitals are lagging dangerously, with hundreds of Bay State patients being infected in just the first quarter of 2013.”

  • CMS release: Public gets early snapshot of MRSA and C. difficile infections in individual hospitals
    Source: CMS (Thursday December 12, 2013)

    “New data posted today and gathered through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) gives patients a first look at how their local hospitals are doing at preventing Clostridium difficile infections (deadly diarrhea) and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bloodstream infections.”

  • Article by Christian Lillis: Slaughter doing her part to fight superbugs
    Source: Democrat and Chronicle (Sunday September 29, 2013)

    Christian Lillis of NY, who lost his mother to C.diff infection and formed the Peggy Lillis Memorial Foundation, says that Rep. Louise Slaughter is a leader in fighting antibiotic resistant superbugs. C.diff is a potentially deadly infection that kills thousands of Americans every year. Luckily the infection is preventable through handwashing and better use of antibiotics.

  • Oregon health officials tackle complacency over antibiotic misuse, amid dire warnings
    Source: The Oregonian (Friday October 11, 2013)

    Oregon health officials are spreading the word to health care facilities and schools to stop antibiotic overuse – an OR survey showed that only half of the state’s hospitals appear to have full-blown stewardship programs to rein in the use of antibiotics.

  • Peggy Lillis Foundation Keeps Roots in Park Slope
    Source: ParkSlopePatch (Friday September 20, 2013)

    The Park Slope Patch featured the Peggy Lillis Memorial Foundation, formed by Christian Lillis of New York after the death of his mother from C.diff, a potentially deadly healthcare infection. Christian is a member of CU’s Safe Patient Project network.

  • Doctors create 'poop pills' that transfer feces from healthy people into guts of patients with infections
    Source: Daily Mail (Thursday October 3, 2013)

    “Doctors have found a way of putting healthy people’s poop into pills to cure serious gut infections – a less invasive way of carrying out ‘fecal transplants’.”

  • Clostridium difficile Leaves the Hospital—What's Next?
    Source: New England Journal of Medicine (Monday June 17, 2013)

    NEJM study suggests that community acquired c. difficile comes from health care settings.

  • With Money at Risk, Hospitals Push Staff to Wash Hands
    Source: NYT (Tuesday May 28, 2013)

    US hospitals still need to monitor health care workers hand washing compliance.

  • Fecal Transplant: FDA Wants Regulation
    Source: Medpage Today (Wednesday May 15, 2013)

    Fecal transplants have been successful in the treatment of the antibiotic resistant bacteria C-difficile. Should the FDA be regulating this as a biologic?

  • Fecal Transplant: FDA Wants Regulation
    Source: MedPage Today (Wednesday May 15, 2013)

    MedPage Today reports: “Researchers who have been reporting success with the use of fecal transplant to treat resistant C. difficile are likely to need an OK from the the FDA to continue that treatment.”

  • Targeted screening can reduce spread of C. diff infection
    Source: Fierce Healthcare (Friday May 3, 2013)

    New study published in the May issue of American Journal of Infection Control finds testing patients with 3 risk factors when they’re admitted could help hospitals reduce spread of C.diff infection.

  • The revulsion about feces: Get over it
    Source: KevinMD (Thursday May 2, 2013)

    Guest blog post about C.diff and feces on KevinMD by Christian Lillis, co-founder of the Peggy Lillis Memorial Foundation, and member of Consumers Union’s Safe Patient Project network.

  • AP reports on hospital superbugs and cleaning efforts - advocate Christian Lillis quoted
    Source: Associated Press (Monday April 29, 2013)

    AP reports on hospital superbugs and cleaning efforts. Christian Lillis, member of CU’s Safe Patient Project, is quoted in the article. Christian started the Peggy Lillis Memorial Foundation after the death of his mother from C.diff.

  • New York Times Well Blog: Safer Hospital Rooms
    Source: New York Times (Monday April 15, 2013)

    Over a 21-month period at a Cleveland hospital, researchers sequentially imposed three cleaning techniques: fluorescent markers whose disappearance after cleaning provided feedback on thoroughness, an ultraviolet radiation device to enhance regular cleaning, and a daily disinfection team requiring assessment and clearance of disinfected rooms by supervisory staff. The entire study is available to the public at

  • Daughter shares mother's C.diff story: Teresa Mustain
    Source: Peggy Foundation (Wednesday March 13, 2013)

    Daughter shares her mother’s tragic story about C.diff.

  • C. Diff Dangerous in ESRD
    Source: MedPage Today (Thursday April 4, 2013)

    Patients on kidney dialysis who are infected with Clostridium difficile appeared to have a greater risk of infection relapse and also appeared to have a higher all-cause mortality that patients who do not have kidney disease, researchers said here.

  • NYT Letter to the Editor by Christian Lillis: Intestinal Infection
    Source: New York Times (Sunday January 27, 2013)

    The letter is in response to the paper’s recent article on fecal transplants, which stated that 14,000 people die from C. diff every year. According to HHS, deaths from C. diff are more than double that.

  • When Pills Fail, This, er, Option Provides a Cure
    Source: New York Times (Wednesday January 16, 2013)

    NYT on New England Journal of Medicine study on fecal transplants: such transplants cured 15 of 16 people who had recurring infections with Clostridium difficile bacteria, whereas antibiotics cured only 3 of 13 and 4 of 13 patients in two comparison groups. The treatment appears to work by restoring the gut’s normal balance of bacteria, which fight off C. difficile.

  • Faecal bacteria cocktail treats superbug infection
    Source: New Scientist (Tuesday January 1, 2013)

    Feeding faeces to people with chronic infection can cure them, but who wants to eat poo? A synthetic alternative could provide a more palatable option.

  • Hospital patient sues over infection
    Source: Durand Daily Journal (Monday December 24, 2012)

    CA patient sues hospital for malpractice and negligence after contracting C.diff

  • Cause Of The Global Epidemic Of Clostridium Difficle Identified
    Source: Medical News Today (Monday December 10, 2012)

    Study: New research reveals that there were two different strains of bacterium that caused the global epidemic of Clostridium difficile between 2002 and 2006, not just one.

  • Bugs Without Borders: Researchers Track Emergence Global Spread of Clostridium difficile
    Source: Infection Control Today (Monday December 10, 2012)

    ICT: Researchers show that the global epidemic of Clostridium difficile 027/NAP1/BI in the early to mid-2000s was caused by the spread of two different but highly related strains of the bacterium rather than one as was previously thought. The spread and persistence of both epidemics were driven by the acquisition of resistance to a frontline antibiotic.

  • My mom passed away this morning
    Source: Dag Blog (Thursday December 6, 2012)

    Mother dies from a hospital-acquired C.diff infection.

  • Hospital Food Contaminated With C. diff
    Source: WebMD (Friday October 19, 2012)

    A new report suggests that hospital food is frequently contaminated with the dangerous diarrhea bug Clostridium difficile (C. diff).

  • Spore Wars C.diff series
    Source: Center for Health Reporting (Monday October 15, 2012)

    Center for Health Reporting and Stockton Record partner to produce a news series on C.diff, a deadly hospital infection.

  • Concerns Raised Over California's Gap in C. Difficile Reporting
    Source: California Healthline (Monday October 15, 2012)

    Patient advocates are raising concerns about a gap in California’s public reporting of cases of Clostridium difficile, which has become one of the most deadly types of infections in the U.S., the Stockton Record reports.

  • Gaps exposed in tracking of C. difficile cases
    Source: CHCF Center for Health Reporting (Monday October 15, 2012)

    This is the second in a three-day series examining Clostridium difficile, a potentially lethal infection gaining a foothold in San Joaquin County and across the country.

  • Infection found in hospitals can kill
    Source: CHCF Center for Health Reporting (Sunday October 14, 2012)

    This is the first in a three-day series examining Clostridium difficile, a potentially lethal infection gaining a foothold in San Joaquin County and across the country.

  • This American Life: What Doesn't Kill You
    Source: This American Life (Friday October 5, 2012)

    Podcast interview with comedian Tig Notaro about her cancer treatment and string of misfortunes, including C.diff infection.

  • Far more could be done to stop the deadly bacteria C. diff
    Source: USA Today (Thursday August 16, 2012)

    A USA TODAY investigation shows that C. diff is far more prevalent than federal reports suggest. The bacteria is linked in hospital records to more than 30,000 deaths a year in the United States— about twice federal estimates and rivaling the 32,000 killed in traffic accidents. It strikes about a half-million Americans a year.

  • Photos: The Faces of C.diff Victims
    Source: USA Today (Thursday August 16, 2012)

    18 photos of people who have died from C.diff, a hospital infection. Features 10 people from the Safe Patient Project’s story bank.

  • Hospital successfully battles C. diff
    Source: USA Today (Thursday August 16, 2012)

    USA Today: When officials at The Jewish Hospital-Mercy Health in Cincinnati launched a high-priority initiative in 2009 to bring down its skyrocketing C. diff rate, it took far less time and money than they expected to get dramatic results.

  • Herd Immunity: Mount Sinai Medical Center Did a Public Service by Revealing MRSA Cases
    Source: Reporting on Health (Friday June 22, 2012)

    Bill Heisel (Reporting on Health) reports on a NY MRSA study published in CDC’s Emerging Infectious Diseases.

  • Tending the Body’s Microbial Garden
    Source: New York Times (Monday June 18, 2012)

    Researchers say fecal transplants are safe and effective; 83% C. diff patients experience immediate improvement.

  • Study: C. diff More Dangerous Outside of Hospital
    Source: The Peggy Lillis Memorial Foundation (Monday June 18, 2012)

    In April, a CDC study found that people who developed a C. diff Infection outside of the hospital setting (including those living in nursing homes or recently treated in physicians offices) were four times more likely to require a colectomy (surgical removal of the colon) than those who developed symptoms while hospitalized. And people 65 or older are at even higher risk.

  • Lack of Hospital Infection Reporting Mandate Leaves Patients at Risk

    “This pick-and-choose infection reporting strategy hurts patients. Failing to fully track surgical site infections provides incomplete safety information.”

  • Maine nursing homes and hospitals battling deadly gut infection
    Source: Bangor Daily News (Thursday March 8, 2012)

    Maine ranks second in the nation for deaths from a nasty infection spread in health care facilities called C. difficile, according to new data.

  • The Latest on Clostridium Difficile, From the CDC
    Source: Wall Street Journal (Wednesday March 7, 2012)

    C. diff infections have been on the rise, and 14,000 deaths a year are linked to the bug. The CDC had some new stats on C. diff yesterday. Specifically, it says that 94% of the infections in 2010 were picked up after an encounter with the health-care system — say, a stay in a nursing-home or rehab facility.

  • Video: Toxic Megacolon Superbug
    Source: YouTube (Tuesday February 8, 2011)

    Video on MRSA and C. diff superbugs found in U.S. retail meat posted by

  • Maine's New Laws to Kick in Jan. 1
    Source: Maine Public Broadcasting Network (Thursday December 29, 2011)

    Starting Jan. 1, hospitals must submit data on Clostridium difficile, or C. Diff., on a monthly basis to federal and state public health officials. A database with MRSA and C. Diff rates will be readily accessible to the public as early as the spring, reports the Maine Hospital Association.

  • An epidemic that states have to stop
    Source: Times Union (Wednesday August 24, 2011)

    Each year C. diff. infections (CDIs) claim the lives of what may be hundreds of New Yorkers, from toddlers to seniors. Thousands more face life-altering bouts with the disease, often acquired in health care settings and resistant to common medications.

Research and Reports

  • AHRQ: Toolkit for Reduction of Clostridium difficile Infections Through Antimicrobial Stewardship
    Source: AHRQ (Thursday October 18, 2012)

    Clostridium difficile infection (C. difficile) is a serious public health problem that has recently increased in both incidence and severity. Taking steps to reduce C. difficile is a major health and public health imperative. Antimicrobial stewardship targeted to C. difficile reduction shows promise, because increased rates of C. difficile are associated with inappropriate antibiotic use. An antimicrobial stewardship program (ASP) is a systematic approach to developing coordinated interventions to reduce overuse and inappropriate selection of antibiotics, and to achieve optimal outcomes for patients in cost-efficient ways. This toolkit assists hospital staff and leadership in developing an effective ASP with the potential to reduce C. difficile.

  • Reduction in Clostridium difficile Infection Rates after Mandatory Hospital Public Reporting: Findings from a Longitudinal Cohort Study in Canada
    Source: Public Library of Science (Tuesday July 17, 2012)

    Canadian study: Public reporting of C.diff infections associated with a 26.7% reduction rate in C.diff cases, or a projected 1,970 cases averted per year.

  • CDC: C.diff information
    Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Tuesday March 6, 2012)

    C. difficile causes diarrhea linked to 14,000 American deaths each year. While most types of health care-associated infections are declining, one – caused by the germ C. difficile – remains at historically high levels.

  • Using fecal transplants to treat recurrent Clostridium difficile infections (CDI)
    Source: CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion (Tuesday January 17, 2012)

    CDC MD: “Transplanting feces from one human to another may sound repulsive, but for patients suffering from recurrent, debilitating diarrhea caused by Clostridium difficile, a fecal transplant offers a ray of hope.”

  • Ohio publishes rate of c.difficile in state's hospitals

    Clostridium difficile is an increasingly important cause of infectious diseases, especially in health care settings. Find reported rates for Ohio acute care hospitals and nursing homes for 2006.