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Study Finds C. Difficile Infection Increases Hospital Costs

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Clostridium difficile (C. diff), one of the most common healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), increases hospital costs by 40 percent per case and puts those infected at high risk for longer hospital stays and readmissions, according to a new study published in the November issue of the American Journal of Infection Control.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year approximately 500,000 people contract C. diff, which can lead to severe diarrhea, pseudomembranous colitis, toxic megacolon and death. Although there is little research available to define the total cost and impact of C. diff-related infections, estimates suggest that they may be associated with nearly $5 billion in U.S. healthcare costs annually.

The study, Impact of Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea on acute care length of stay, hospital costs, and readmission, analyzed patients discharged between January 2009 and December 2011. A retrospective analysis of inpatient hospital data was performed on 171,586 eligible discharges from approximately 500 U.S. hospitals in the Premier Healthcare Database. Results showed that C. diff contributed to an increase of approximately 40 percent in costs per case or an average of $7,285 in additional costs. Costs were higher for patients with renal impairment ($8,942), immunocompromised status ($8,692) and concomitant antibiotic exposure ($8,545).

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