Hospital costs directly related to management of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are on the rise and the subject of intense focus for managing quality of care and institutional efficiency.
Additionally, the US acute care costs associated with clostridium difficile infection are up to $5.9 billion.1 On top of these financial costs, HAIs can result in2:
Discharge rate for Clostridium Difficile Infections from US short-stay hospitals by age4
Of all HAIs, Staphylococcus aureus (SA), methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) represent the most common HAIs11, with MRSA/MSSA5, 12, 13 and C. difficile1 infections affecting millions of patients and causing millions of extra days of hospital stay each year. The substantial human suffering and financial burden of these endemic HAIs prompt an urgent need for healthcare facilities to establish effective MRSA/MSSA surveillance and timely C. difficile testing for effective infection control and prevention.
Microbiology labs are the first lines of defense for detection of HAIs, unexpected pandemics, and outbreaks. For example, by implementing a reliable MRSA/MSSA surveillance program that rapidly and accurately detects colonized patients, clinical microbiology and infection control can help reduce the worldwide burden and spread of these costly infections.
Lance R. Peterson, MD
Director of Microbiology and
Infectious Disease Research
NorthShore University HealthSystem
CDI, which is known to cause severe diarrhea, pseudomembranous colitis, or toxic megacolon, not only imposes a monetary burden on both healthcare facilities and patients, but also results in prolonged patient suffering. Patients infected with C. difficile may require extended hospital stays, possible re-hospitalization, and additional medications.
Complicating efforts to manage these costly infections, CDI is changing as evidenced by: increasing virulence, rising incidence, unresponsiveness to metronidazole therapy, and worse outcomes, including death.8 In fact, deaths in the US related to C. difficile increased 400% between 2000 and 2007, in part because of the emergence of hypervirulent strains.9 Additionally, US hospital stays related to CDI tripled in the last decade, further illustrating the growing public health threat of the infection.10
The increased severity and incidence of CDI make accurate and rapid identification of the infection imperative, highlighting the need for reliable diagnostic methods to help prevent outbreaks, and identify and treat patients quickly.4,8
According to the CDC, hospitals that followed infection control recommendations lowered CDI rates by 20% in less than 2 years.10 Microbiology labs are an essential part of timely and accurate reporting of CDI, enabling clinicians to provide appropriate therapy and improve patient management.
CO-HCA: community onset health care–associated infection,
NHO: nursing home onset.
HO: hospital onset