Objective: Healthcare-associated Clostridium difficile infection (HCA-CDI) remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality in industrialized countries. However, few data exist on the burden of HCA-CDI in multi-site non-metropolitan settings. This study examined the introduction of an antimicrobial stewardship programme (ASP) in relation to HCA-CDI rates, and the effect of HCA-CDI on length of stay (LOS) and hospital costs.
Methods: A comparative before-and-after intervention study of patients aged ≥16 years with HCA-CDI from December 2010 to April 2016 across the nine hospitals of a non-metropolitan health district in New South Wales, Australia was undertaken. The intervention comprised a multi-site ASP supported by a clinical decision support system, with subsequent introduction of email feedback of HCA-CDI cases to admitting medical officers.
Main outcome measures: HCA-CDI rates, comparative LOS and hospital costs, prior use of antimicrobials and proton pump inhibitors, and appropriateness of CDI treatment.
Results: HCA-CDI rates rose from 3.07 to 4.60 cases per 10,000 occupied bed-days pre-intervention, and remained stable at 4 cases per 10,000 occupied bed-days post-intervention (P = 0.24). Median LOS (17 vs six days; P < 0.01) and hospital costs (AU$19,222 vs $7861; P < 0.01) were significantly greater for HCA-CDI cases (N = 91) than for matched controls (N = 172). Half of the patients with severe HCA-CDI (4/8) did not receive initial appropriate treatment (oral vancomycin).
Conclusions: HCA-CDI placed a significant burden on the regional and rural health service through increased LOS and hospital costs. Interventions targeting HCA-CDI could be employed to consolidate the effects of ASPs.