Information for patients
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This leaflet tells you about the Clostridioides difficile PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) positive result that has been obtained from your stool specimen.
What is Clostridioides difficile?
Clostridioides difficile are bacteria (germs) which live in the intestine (gut) of some people without causing any problems. Sometimes they can cause infection and diarrhoea, especially when antibiotics have been taken.
What does my PCR positive stool specimen result mean?
Your stool specimen test has shown that you have Clostridioides difficile bacteria in your gut.
Two types of test for Clostridioides difficile are carried out on diarrhoea specimens.
One test shows whether bacteria are present, this is known as the PCR test.
The other test shows the bacteria are producing toxins (poisons) in your gut. In patients who are PCR positive for C difficile only, the results show that bacteria are present but not producing toxins.
What are the signs and symptoms of Clostridioides difficile
Diarrhoea caused by Clostridioides difficile is usually aggressive and very smelly. Other symptoms include abdominal (tummy) pain and fever (high temperature). Some people can have worse symptoms than others. In some cases, the infection can be so severe that it is life threatening. This is rare.
Will I need any treatment?
You may be prescribed an antibiotic by your Doctor to treat Clostridioides difficile when you have a PCR positive result. However, sometimes no treatment is needed for PCR positive Clostridiodes difficile. This will depend on your symptoms and your Doctor will advise you.
What can I do to help myself?
You must always wash your hands well, using soap and water, after using the toilet or commode and before eating. You may need to drink extra fluids to replace those lost through diarrhoea. Your Doctor may advise you to drink probiotic drinks (drinks that contain live bacteria or yeasts that have health benefits).
How will I be looked after if I am found to be PCR positive for Clostridioides difficile while I am in hospital?
While you are in hospital, you will most likely be isolated (looked after in a single room). The door to this room will be kept closed to stop the spread of bacteria.
Your Nurse and the ward domestic will carefully clean your room and any equipment they use. You can help them by putting your belongings in your locker and keeping your room tidy.
Your Nurse will also need to put your used bed-clothes in a plastic bag before taking them out of your room. Everyone looking after you will need to put on a plastic apron and disposable gloves and will have to wash their hands after they have taken these off.
You will need to be isolated until 2 days after your diarrhoea has stopped and you have passed a normal stool. This is to make sure that you are no longer infectious.
The Infection Prevention and Control Team (IPCT) will be informed of your specimen result and, if you are still in hospital, a member of the team will be available to visit you to discuss the result and answer any questions you may have.
A member of the Infection Control team will continue to check on your progress while you are in hospital, with expert advice from a Pharmacist and Consultant Microbiologist (a scientist who specialises in bacteria and other germs).
If you have any concerns about the risk of cross infection or about your care while you are in hospital, you should discuss them with your Doctor, Nurse or the Ward Matron. If you still have concerns, you can ask to see the Senior Clinical Matron for the area, or one of the Infection, Prevention and Control team.
Will this PCR positive Clostridioides difficile result affect my discharge from hospital?
Your Doctor may decide you are well enough to go home even if you still have some diarrhoea. If this happens, your GP will be informed so that your care and treatment can be continued at home.
If you live in a nursing home or residential home, hospital staff will advise that you do not return there until you have been without diarrhoea for 2 days and have passed normal stools.
What if I am at home and have PCR positive Clostridioides difficile?
You must always wash your hands well, using soap and water, after using the toilet or commode and before eating. It is important that you keep your toilet clean using bleach and wash your clothes and bedding separately from other family members’ laundry and at the highest temperature allowed.
Your GP will advise on treatment.
Can I still have visitors?
Yes, it is safe for healthy visitors to come to see you, but they must wash their hands well with soap and water before and after visiting.
If you are in hospital, they will be asked to wear an apron and gloves while visiting. If any visitors are not well, they should stay away until your diarrhoea has cleared.
If you have any worries or concerns, you should contact your GP during normal surgery hours. Outside of surgery hours, you should contact your GP’s surgery for the Out of Hours Service number.
Infection Prevention and Control Team
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust
Telephone: 01642 383280
Opening hours: 9:00am to 5:00pm (Monday to Friday)
Further information is available from:
Telephone: 111 (when it is less urgent than 999).
Calls to this number are free from landlines and mobile phones or via the website.
Department of Health
Comments, concerns, compliments or complaints
Patient Experience Team (PET)
We are continually trying to improve the services we provide. We want to know what we’re doing well or if there’s anything which we can improve, that’s why the Patient Experience Team (PET) is here to help. Our Patient Experience Team is here to try to resolve your concerns as quickly as possible. The office is based on the ground floor at the University Hospital of North Tees if you wish to discuss concerns in person. If you would like to contact or request a copy of our PET leaflet, please contact:
Telephone: 01642 624719
Freephone: 0800 092 0084
Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 9:30am to 4:00pm
Email: [email protected]
Out of hours
Out of hours if you wish to speak to a senior member of Trust staff, please contact the hospital switchboard who will bleep the appropriate person.
Telephone: 01642 617617
Data protection and use of patient information
The Trust has developed Data Protection policies in accordance with Data Protection Legislation (UK General Data Protection Regulations and Data Protection Act 2018) and the Freedom of Information Act 2000. All of our staff respect these policies and confidentiality is adhered to at all times. If you require further information on how we process your information please see our Privacy Notices.
Telephone: 01642 383551
Email: [email protected]Privacy Notices
This leaflet has been produced in partnership with patients and carers. All patient leaflets are regularly reviewed, and any suggestions you have as to how it may be improved are extremely valuable. Please write to the Clinical Governance team, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, University Hospital of North Tees, TS19 8PE or:
Email: [email protected]
Leaflet reference: PIL1315
Date for review: 11 August 2024