Hospitalizations related to C. diff infections can cost more than twice as much as the average hospitalization and can extend patients’ stays by an average of 3.6 days.
New research published the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that hospitalizations associated with Clostridioides difficile (C. diff) infections can double costs and extend patients’ stays by an average of 3.6 days.
C. diff is the most common cause of infectious diarrhea among hospitalized patients and presents significant challenges for health professionals who have direct contact with patients, according to the paper. In addition to health concerns, financial issues are becoming increasingly common, both for patients and for the overall health system.
Asymptomatic C. diff in the gastrointestinal tract has been found in nearly 3% of healthy adults and up to 80% of healthy newborns, and the presence of the microorganism increases by between 16% and 35% in hospital patients. It also increases in proportion to the length of stay in the hospital and during antibiotic treatment.
The frequency of symptomatic C. diff infections increases with age, according to the paper. The authors estimated that 90% of deaths caused by C. diff infection and its consequences occur in individuals 65 years of age and older, with an increasingly aging population not expected to improve these statistics. The authors said the frequency of diseases related to C. diff infections has increased by approximately 3-fold over a 9-year period, with approximately 300,000 cases diagnosed in the United States each year.
To investigate these costs further, researchers analyzed 53 completed hospitalizations of patients treated between January and August 2018 in a hospital in Poland. They also used statistical data from the hospital’s information technology system, including 44,868 hospitalizations that acted as the control group.
During the study period, the investigators identified 53 hospitalizations that were complicated by a C. diff infection, equating to 11.88% of the total hospitalizations. The team collected the date of admission, the date of C. diff diagnosis, and the date of discharge for all of these patients and found that the average duration from the commencement of the stay until the confirmation of C. diff infection was 11.56 days. The average duration of hospitalization from the moment of diagnosis until discharge was 12.68 days.
According to the paper, C. diff infections extended patients’ hospital stays by an average of almost 12 days and the average cost of prolonged hospitalization was approximately $1947, which equated to approximately $103,256 during the examined time period. During the same time, the average expenditure by the Polish National Health Fund for hospitalizations due to C. diff infections increased by approximately $1804, which translated to more than $957,794 annually.
The authors noted that although these costs seem enormous to the average person, they do not present a significant problem to individual health systems, which can have multi-million dollar contracts. This could explain the historic lack of interest in the subject, according to the paper.
Sierocka A, Kiersnowska Z, Lemiech-Mirowska E, and Marczak M. Costs associated with the treatment of clostridioides difficile infections. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(14). Accessed August 18, 2021. https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/18/14/7647/htm