Healthcare data suggest that the incidence and severity of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) in hospitals are increasing. However, the overall burden of disease and the mortality rate associated with CDI, including the contribution from cases of infection that occur in nursing homes, are poorly understood.
In 2006, active public reporting of healthcare-onset CDI, using standardized case definitions, was mandated for all Ohio hospitals and nursing homes. Incidence rates were determined and stratified according to healthcare facility characteristics. Death certificates that listed CDI were analyzed for trends.
There were 14,329 CDI cases reported, including 6,376 cases at 210 hospitals (5,217 initial cases [ie, cases identified more than 48 hours after admission to a healthcare facility in patients who had not had CDI during the previous 6 months] and 1,159 recurrent cases [ie, cases involving patients who had had CDI during the previous 6 months]) and 7,953 cases at 955 nursing homes (4,880 initial and 3,073 recurrent cases). After adjusting for missing data, the estimated total was 18,200 cases of CDI, which included 7,000 hospital cases (5,700 initial and 1,300 recurrent cases) and 11,200 nursing homes cases (6,900 initial and 4,300 recurrent cases). The rate for initial cases was 6.4-7.9 cases/10,000 patient-days for hospitals and 1.7-2.9 cases/10,000 patient-days for nursing homes. The rate for initial cases in nursing homes decreased during the study (P < .001). Nonpediatric hospital status (P = .011), a smaller number of beds (P = .003), and location in the eastern or northeastern region of the state (P = .011) were each independently associated with a higher rate of initial cases in hospitals. Death certificates for 2006 listed CDI among the causes of death for 893 Ohio residents; between 2000 and 2006, this number increased more than 4-fold.
Healthcare-onset CDI represents a major public health threat that, when considered in the context of an increasing mortality rate, should justify a major focus on prevention efforts.