10 things for CFOs to know about C. diff

To combat Clostridium difficile infections, the CDC suggests healthcare facility executives — including CFOs — monitor the number and severity of these costly conditions, as well as the outcomes of patients infected.

Here are 10 things CFOs should know about C. diff.

1. C. diff is a spore-forming, Gram-positive anaerobic bacillus that can lead to antibiotic-associated diarrhea and sepsis, among other conditions. 1

2. C. diff is shed in feces, so any surface, device or material that becomes contaminated with feces can serve as a reservoir for C. diff spores, which can be transferred to patients mainly via the hands of healthcare personnel who have touched a contaminated surface or item. 2

3. According to a recent CDC report, C. diff caused nearly half a million infections in U.S. hospitalized patients in 2011. That year, about 29,000 patients died within 30 days of the C. diff diagnosis, with 15,000 of those deaths directly attributable to the infection.

4. C. diff infections, or CDIs, account for 10 percent of all HAIs in hospitalized patients. The excess cost of a CDI per patient is estimated at around $11,000. 3

5. Part of that excess cost comes from the increased length of stay for a patient with a CDI. When a CDI occurs, it adds roughly 3.3 days onto the average length of stay for a patient. 3

6. CDIs make up 5 percent of the excess costs in U.S. hospitals associated with all HAIs (whereas central line-associated bloodstream infections represent 36 percent of excess costs in U.S. hospitals and catheter-associated urinary tract infections represent 2 percent, for instance). 3

7. Between 2011 and 2013, the nation saw a 10 percent decrease in CDIs, according to the CDC's National and State Healthcare-associated Infection Progress Report.

8. Over the last 10 years, the rate of CDIs were highest in the following regions: Northeast (eight CDI discharges per 1,000 total discharges), Midwest (6.4/1,000), South (5/1,000) and West (4.8/1,000). Between 2001 and 2010, C. diff mortality was highest in the Midwest (7.3 percent).

9. One study found the most cases of CDIs occurred during the spring, with 6.2 CDI discharges per 1,000 total. Winter and summer came next (both at 5.9/1,000) with fall bringing up the rear (5.6/1,000).

10. CDIs can be prevented in healthcare settings by using antibiotics judiciously, implementing an environmental cleaning and disinfection strategy, having healthcare workers use contact precautions when working with patients who are (or may be) infected with C. diff and practicing hand hygiene. 2


1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. February 25, 2015. Healthcare-associated Infections (HAIs). Clostridium difficile Infection. http://www.cdc.gov/HAI/organisms/cdiff/Cdiff_infect.html

2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. March 6, 2012. Healthcare-associated Infections (HAIs). Frequently Asked Questions about Clostridium difficile for Healthcare Providers. http://www.cdc.gov/HAI/organisms/cdiff/Cdiff_faqs_HCP.html

3 Becker's Hospital Review. Patient Shield Concepts. May 12, 2015. The True Cost of HAIs. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QyKhmeFeL8



More articles on Clostridium difficile:
Infection preventionists approve 11 C. diff prevention recommendations
How St. Luke's Boise successfully switched cleaners, lowered C. diff rates
7 recent stories, studies on C. diff

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