Today the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, with revised estimates for the burden of harm and death caused by Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections. The study notes that C. diff caused almost half a million infections among Americans in a single year, including more than 100,000 in U.S. nursing homes.
The study also estimates that 29,000 patients died within 30 days of the initial diagnosis of C. diff, including 15,000 estimated to be directly attributable to the disease. Previous studies estimated C. diff-related deaths at 14,000. According to CDC, C. diff has become the most common microbial cause of healthcare-associated infections in U.S. hospitals and costs up to $4.8 billion each year in excess health care costs for acute care facilities alone. The new study found that 1 out of every 5 patients with a healthcare-associated C. difficile infection experienced a recurrence of the infection and 1 out of every 9 patients aged 65 or older with a healthcare-associated C. difficile infection died within 30 days of diagnosis.
Peggy Lillis Foundation’s executive director Christian John Lillis participated in the CDC’s press conference on the study’s release. A transcript and audio file of the conference are available online. CDC has also created a new infographic that we urge everyone to share and help us spread the word.
It’s our hope that that this new, more comprehensive assessment of C. diff’s impact will spark much greater attention to this disease. Increased public awareness about C. diff’s prevalence, risk factors, prevention and treatment is crucial so Americans can make informed decisions and seek help early. We must also translate that awareness into tangible policy changes that we know will save lives. That’s why Peggy Lillis Foundation advocates for robust antibiotic stewardship, sanitation and hand hygiene programs at every health care facility; mandatory public reporting in every state; and increased public and private investment in both prevention and treatments.