Yogurt regimen could help hospitals reduce C. diff

Yogurt, which is rich in probiotics, may hold the answer to reducing life-threatening Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Antibiotics can put patients at increased risk for C. diff infections, as they kill "good" intestinal bacteria as well as "bad," which can lead to the imbalance that causes the infection, according to the article. C. diff causes 14,000 deaths per year, and costs hospitals nearly $2 billion annually and patients with C. diff infections are 40 percent more likely to be readmitted within a year, reports the Journal.

Researchers say further study is necessary to determine whether probiotics are effective in routine C. diff prevention or whether they may increase the risk of infection, Eric R. Dubberke, M.D., associate professor at St. Louis' Washington University School of Medicine, who is currently conducting a study on the effectiveness of probiotics in treating patients with C. diff, told the Journal. 

But one hospital has already seen the benefits of its use. Dietitians at Holy Redeemer Hospital, a 263-bed facility in Meadowbrook, Pa., began meeting in 2012 with patients who had orders of antibiotics for more than a day to tell them of the potential benefits of probiotics and encourage them to eat more yogurt. Since beginning the consultations, the Journal reports that Holy Redeemer saw C. diff cases fall from 75 in 2011 (12.5 percent) to 23 in 2012 (4 percent), and the downward trend has continued this year, with only 18 infections thus far.

Holy Redeemer this year received an innovation award from the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania for the results of the probiotics program, the Journal states.

A September study found that, although conventional wisdom holds that C. diff  is typically contracted in a healthcare system, people, particularly children, were at a far greater risk for community-based infection than previously thought, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

To learn more:
- read the WSJ article