C. diff is a disease that, if misdiagnosed through medical malpractice, can result in permanent damage. However, researchers in the UK are seeking clinical trials for a treatment for C. diff that could radically reduce the number of deaths and injuries from the disease. Medical News Today reports that scientists have isolated bacteriophage (bacteria-eating) viruses that can specifically target C. diff bacteria, while sparing bacteria that is neutral or beneficial. While these developments are promising, the threat from C. diff is currently very real.
Clostridium difficile (C. diff) is a bacterium that spreads in the intestines. It releases a toxin that causes damage, resulting in numerous symptoms. In healthy patients, the symptoms tend to be minor. However, the bacterium affects in-patients and those with compromised immune systems more severely.
The most common difficulty arises when a patient in the hospital begins taking antibiotics to combat infection. C. diff is antibiotic-resistant, and will survive the use of most antibacterial drugs. The intestines, however, is home to many types of bacteria, some of them beneficial. The difficulty with antibiotics is that they do not differentiate between bacteria, and thus will kill the beneficial bacteria. This creates an imbalance in the bacteria, and C. diff becomes more problematic. C. diff, left unchecked, will cause a disease called colistridium difficile colitis, and the symptoms range from the relatively mild (diarrhea, mild pain) to severe (extreme pain, necrosis of the intestine, death).
There are two main treatments for C. diff. C. diff is vulnerable to certain antibiotics over others. Doctors have found that changing the antibiotic prescription of a patient as soon as the C. diff bacteria are found can help combat the symptoms. Failing to timely diagnose and change the prescription has been grounds for malpractice suits.
Because C. diff only really begins causing damage through the imbalance between it and other, beneficial bacteria in the intestines, doctors have developed treatments aimed at increasing the amount of beneficial bacteria. One such treatment is eating probiotic food, such as yogurt. Ingesting pills containing material that has been culled from human feces may even out the imbalance in the intestine as well. These treatments have met with mixed success.
The new treatment based on bacteriophage virus is promising. The UK researchers who have isolated the virus are optimistic. They are seeking trials for the treatment, and they hope to see an effective treatment based on these viruses within the next 5 to 10 years.
C. Diff and You
Until this treatment is viable, the traditional treatments are effective enough. However, the true enemy in C. diff infection is time. Left unchecked, C. diff can be very dangerous. Doctors have a duty to test for the disease if they encounter symptoms in hospital patients. Failure to timely diagnose C. diff and begin treatment can result in permanent damage to the intestines, or even death. If you or someone you know has suffered injury from C. diff, you may have a case for medical malpractice. Contact an experienced Maryland injury attorney today.