Reproducible elimination ofClostridium difficilespores using a clinical area washer disinfector in 3 different health care sites

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Following a Clostridium difficile infection outbreak, the Infection Prevention and Control team at our institution queried the risk of transmission via bedpans reprocessed in washer disinfectors (WDs). This study's objective was to determine the effectiveness of the mechanical action, detergent, and temperature on the eradication of C difficile spores in 1 type of WD model.

Materials and methods:

Three types of reusable bedpans/pots were inoculated with sterile human feces that contained 1 × 107 CFU/mL C difficile spores. The 0.3 mL fecal-spore suspension was inoculated in sealed cryovials. These items were reprocessed using the longest wash cycle of WDs in 9 clinical units, and then tested for residual C difficile spores. The number of colonies on each replicate organism detection and counting plate was recorded after anaerobic incubation at 35°C for 48 hours, and the log reduction was calculated.


All 9 WDs met the manufacturer's operational specifications. Forty-three (96%) of 45 bedpans had no viable spores (>5.9 log10C difficile spore reduction). Two bedpans had 1 to 2 spores remaining. Viable C difficile spores were isolated from all 9 cryovials.

Discussion and conclusions:

Results demonstrated that when operating the WD as stipulated, C difficile spores were satisfactorily eliminated from bedpan surfaces. Temperature alone was insufficient to kill C difficile spores. It also suggested the importance of staff training, machine maintenance, and WD purchase specifications.

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