C. diff Infection Increases Hospital Costs by 40%

In addition to being responsible for longer hospital stays and readmissions, Clostridium difficile is increases hospital costs by 40%, according to a new study conducted by Premier, Inc.

Clostridium difficile (C. diff) is responsible for increasing hospital costs per individual patient and results in longer hospital stays and readmissions, according to a new study conducted by Premier, Inc.

One of the most common healthcare-associated infections, C. diff increases the hospital stay by 55%. This infection also increases the chances of infected patients to be readmitted by 77%. However, the most important finding of the study is that C. diff increases hospital costs by 40%.

Premier, Inc, led the study in partnership with Cubist Pharmaceuticals. The new study, published in the American Journal of Infection Control, analyzed Premier’s patient database to calculate the length of stay, the total inpatient costs, readmission numbers and inpatient mortality. The Premier Healthcare Database analyzed 171,586 patients from 500 US hospitals discharged with C. diff-associated diarrhea (CDAD) over a period of 3 years, between January 2009 and December 2011. The patients were all over 18 years of age.

It was found that patients with CDAD had an increased length of stay and increased inpatient mortality as compared to non-CDAD patients. The costs associated with CDAD hospital admission and treatment were also substantially higher. The all-cause hospital readmission rates spiked among CDAD patients as compared to non-CDAD patients.

“In the last 15 years, C. diff hospitalizations have increased by more than 200 percent,” Glenn Magee, MBA, the lead author of the study and principal research scientist at Premier, said in a statement. He added that while it is not news that C. diff results in higher hospital costs and less than ideal outcomes, the study is the first to shed light on the actual impact it has on US hospitals and patients.

Almost 500,000 people are infected with C. diff every year, according to the CDC. If not treated well, C. diff can lead to further complications such as severe diarrhea, toxic megacolon, pseudomembranous colitis and even death.

The healthcare-associated infection, caused by the germ C. diff was responsible for almost half a million infections in US in 2011. In the same year, 29,000 infected people died within a month of the initial diagnosis, according to the CDC.

The key results from the study are as follows:

  • C. diff added an average of $7285 to healthcare costs. This figure amounts to approximately 40% increase in costs per case.
  • The costs keep increasing for specific infections. For example, the cost was $8942 for renal impairment and $8,692 for immuno-compromised status.
  • Patients faced a 77% higher risk of readmission within the first 30 days.
  • The mortality risk for CDAD patients increased by 13%.
  • The length of stay for CDAD patients increased by nearly 5 days.

Based on the cost associated with the treatment of C. diff, it is becoming increasingly important to focus on efforts to reduce and prevent the infection. Evidence shows that healthcare providers can reduce the risk of recurrences for vulnerable patients through targeted therapy. Simple measures such as use of gloves and gowns in a private room and strictly adhering to hand washing have proved to prevent spread of C. diff infections.