C diff infections nearly double costs, mortality in Medicare patients

Every year, Clostridium difficile infects 240,000 elderly patients, resulting in thousands of deaths and billions of dollars in healthcare costs, according to a recent study published in the journal Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.

For the study, researchers examined Medicare data from 2008 to 2010 on 1,165,165 patients aged 65 years and older. Among these, 6,838 experienced C. diff infections.

Patients diagnosed with C. diff were more likely to be older, from the Northeast and demonstrated a higher burden of comorbidities. C. diff infections were associated with a near doubling in mortality rates (23.4 percent to 42.6 percent) when compared to uninfected Medicare patients. Healthcare costs also nearly doubled for infected patients.

"Among elderly patients, [C. diff infection] is associated with an increase in adjusted mortality and healthcare costs following a CDI episode," wrote the authors. "Nationwide, annually this equals 240,000 patients with CDI, 46,000 potential deaths, and more than $6 billion in costs."

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