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Rates of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) among hospitalized patients may be up to 20 times greater than previous estimates, according to a comprehensive study by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC). Researchers, who found that 13 of every 1,000 hospital patients are either infected or colonized with C. difficile, say that CDI is an "escalating issue" in U.S. healthcare facilities.


APIC researchers asked the organization's 12,000 members to collect data about all patients with CDI at their facilities on 1 day between May and August 2008. Participants responded from 648 facilities (about 13% of all U.S. facilities). On that day, 1,443 patients had CDI, which translates to over 7,000 patients nationwide on any given day. Found in units throughout the hospitals, 85% of infected patients were being treated for general medical conditions, such as diabetes or cardiac conditions.


Most often associated with antibiotic use, CDI is easily spread to vulnerable patients via hands contaminated with feces. APIC's Guide to the Elimination of Clostridium difficile in Healthcare Settings provides detailed recommendations to prevent CDI. These include guidelines on risk assessment, surveillance programs, hand hygiene and contact precautions, environmental and equipment decontamination, and antimicrobial stewardship programs to prevent unnecessary antibiotic use.


For more information about the APIC National Prevalence Study of Clostridium difficile in U.S. Healthcare Facilities, visit http://www.apic.org.