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AHRQ: C. diff infections level off in 2009

Infection rate steady after a 300% increase in years prior

Topics: Infection Control, Quality, Performance Improvement

January 31, 2012

After a 300% increase in hospitalizations involving Clostridium difficile infections from 1993 to 2008, the number of hospital stays related to the infection leveled off between 2008 and 2009, according to a recent Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) statistical brief.

Using data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, AHRQ researchers examined U.S. hospital stays involving C. diff in 2009 along with characteristics of those hospitalizations. The researchers found that hospital stays involving C. diff increased from 86,000 in 1993 to 349,000 in 2008, before leveling off at 337,000 stays in 2009.

According to the report, patients aged 85 and older were at the highest risk for C. diff, with the cohort experiencing more than double the rate of hospital stays as other age groups. In addition, the results showed that more than 9% of C. diff hospital stays ended in death—compared with 2% of other stays—and C. diff patients had a longer average length of stay (13 days) than other patients (less than five days).

Common conditions among C. diff patients in 2009 included dehydration and electrolyte disorders, blood infections, and renal failure, the report said (AHRQ release, 1/25; AHRQ statistical brief, January 2012).

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