Hospital Food Frequently Contaminated With C. diff.? Ick!

Hospital food always appears questionable to me.  In the ER we receive a regular supply of pimento cheese (I work in the South) and tuna fish sandwiches.  You have to question the rationale of these picks.  "Mrs. Smith, now that your Zofran is kicking in and your vomiting has subsided, would you like to try to keep down some soggy tuna salad?".  I mean, I couldn't eat our meal trays on a good day much less with a little GI distress.  A new report shows that the problem with hospital food may be even worse than just poor meal planning.

A recent study conducted at Baylor College of Medicine found that 25% of hospital food is contaminated with diarrhea causing C. difficile.  Yuck.  Researchers sampled 2 tablespoons of various food items served over the course of 80 days at a university hospital in Houston.  They discovered C. diff contamination in 50% of turkey samples, 33% of seafoods (nothing makes me crave shellfish quite like illness), 43% of chicken and egg products and 12% of beef products.  Skip the dessert next time you are admitted.  Desserts contained the most C. diff contamination at a rate of 60%.

The last thing we need at our hospitals is an increase in C. diff infections.  Our hallways already smell bad enough.  Fortunately no cases of human infection were linked to C. diff contamination in hospital meals.  Still, I think it's time to review food preparation techniques in our hospitals.  Until then, warn your patients to pack a lunch.