C. difficile infections increase lengths of stay, costs

Clostridium difficile (C. diff) is one of the most common hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) and new research shows it is also one of the most complicated and costly to treat.

C. diff infections raise each patient's care costs by 40 percent or an average of  $7,285 and increase the length of their stay by 55 percent, according to a study conducted by Premier, Inc. and Cubist Pharmaceuticals. Furthermore, patients who contract C. diff are 77 percent more likely to be readmitted.

"In the last 15 years, C. diff hospitalizations have increased by more than 200 percent," Glenn Magee, lead author of the study, which was published in the American Journal of Infection Control, said in the announcement.

"Although it's commonly known that C. diff contributes to high costs and less than ideal outcomes, this study is the first to provide a complete look at how much of an impact it has on U.S. hospitals and patients," he said. "Efforts focused on preventing initial C. diff episodes, and targeted therapy to prevent recurrences for vulnerable patients, are essential to decrease this burden."

The study found that patients who contracted C. diff had a:

  • Seventy-seven percent higher chance of being readmitted within 30 days
  • Fifty-five percent longer hospital stay of nearly five days
  • Thirteen percent higher risk of mortality

While the CDC reported early this year that some amount of progress is being made against antibiotic resistant "superbugs" and HAIs, the agency estimates that some 500,000 U.S. hospital patients contract the disease each year. A study published in the journal Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology in April found that hospitals can do more to fight and prevent the spread of C. diff and urged them to take action.

To learn more:
- read the study announcement
- read the abstract