94% of C. difficile Infections Occurred in People who Recently Received Medical Care

“From 2000 to 2009, the number of hospitalized patients with a C. difficile discharge diagnosis more than doubled, form approximately 139,000 to 336,000, and the number with a primary diagnosis more than tripled from 33,000 to 111,000, the CDC report said.” [1]


A recently released CDC report sheds some light on this disturbing trend. According to the report C. difficile is linked to 14,000 deaths in the U.S. each year and EACH hospital-onset case is estimated to cost anywhere from $5,042 to $7,179 in excess medical expenses. The nationwide costs for these infections estimated at $897 million to $1.3 billion. [2]

While the deaths and excess medical costs associated with C. difficile are major issues that need to be dealt with, there is another reason hospitals need to be aware of this trend. Beginning in 2013 the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will start their payment for reporting program for infections. With this program it is expected that higher infection rates will result in a reduction of reimbursements. Additionally, CMS may add C. difficile to the list of healthcare-acquired conditions for which it will not pay for additional care required. [3]  This would leave hospitals holding the bag for the additional costs associated with this pesky bug.

The good news is the CDC issued a report outlining 6 points to help reduce these infections.

  1. Don’t over treat.
  2. Facilities should inform subsequent providers whenever they transfer or discharge a patient with C. difficile.
  3. Test patients for C. difficile when they have diarrhea while on antibiotics.
  4. Immediately place infected patients into isolation.
  5. Providers should wear gloves and gowns when treating patients with the infection.
  6.  Clean room surfaces with bleach or another spore killing disinfectant. [4]


David McParland
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[1] http://www.healthleadersmedia.com/page-2/QUA-277406/Most-C-Diff-Infections-Start-in-Healthcare-Facilities
[2] http://www.healthleadersmedia.com/page-2/QUA-277406/Most-C-Diff-Infections-Start-in-Healthcare-Facilities
[3] http://www.healthleadersmedia.com/page-3/QUA-277406/Most-C-Diff-Infections-Start-in-Healthcare-Facilities
[4] http://www.healthleadersmedia.com/page-5/QUA-277406/Most-C-Diff-Infections-Start-in-Healthcare-Facilities