Colitis (inflammation of the colon) can occur as a result of infection with the bacterium Clostridium difficile (also known as C difficile and C diff). The disease results from disruption or removal of normal healthy bacteria from the colon by antibiotics. The C difficile bacterium produces toxins (poisonous substances) that attack the lining of the colon and can cause severe damage to the colon itself. More commonly, C difficile toxins produce diarrhea and abdominal discomfort. Unfortunately, it is resistant to most antibiotics. Complications of C difficile colitis include bowel perforation (a hole in the colon) and pseudomembranous colitis (patches of severe inflammation and pus in the colon). C difficile is one of the most common infections that are typically acquired in health care institutions, along with MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and VRE (vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus). Hand washing and disinfection, isolation of infected patients, and appropriate antibiotic use are the best ways to reduce spread of these types of infection. The March 4, 2009, issue of JAMA contains an article about Clostridium difficile colitis.