Clostridium difficile lengthens hospital stays by six days on average

C. difficile is the most common cause of infectious diarrhoea in hospital, and it is estimated that 10% of patients who become infected in hospital will die. Researchers used The Ottawa Hospital Data Warehouse, Canada to analyse data on 136 877 admissions to The Ottawa Hospital between July 1, 2002 and March 31, 2009. A total of 1393 patients acquired C. difficile in hospital during this time, and these patients spent 34 days in hospital compared with eight days for patients who did not have C. difficile. However, the researchers also found that patients who became infected with C. difficile tended to have more serious illnesses and would have been more likely to stay longer in hospital anyway. When the researchers controlled for the level of illness using a mathematical model, they found that hospital-acquired C. difficile increased the length of stay in hospital by six days. The researchers believe that the study provides the most accurate measure yet of the impact of hospital-acquired C. difficile on length of hospital stay. C. difficile is a very serious problem for patients and for healthcare systems, however the good news is that tools such as this can provide more accurate information about C. difficile infection, helping to improve infection prevention efforts and also analyse their cost-effectiveness.