C. diff infections lengthen hospital stays by six days, a new study reports

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Nursing homes are not alone in their battle against the healthcare-acquired infection Clostridium difficile, which causes severe diarrhea and other complications. The infection can lengthen hospital stays by six days, according to a new Canadian study.

When investigators studied data from 136,877 hospital admissions between 2002 and 2009, they found that patients who acquired c. diff spent 34 days in the hospital compared to eight-day stays for patients who did not contract the illness.

When the researchers, who were from the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, controlled for the level of illness in their mathematical model, they found that c. diff increased the length of stay in the hospital by six days. They note that patients who contract c. diff are more likely to have other serious illnesses.

"Adhering to basic evidence-based precautions can rapidly reduce the transmission of C. difficile and its associated mortality," the researchers wrote. “"Surveillance is essential to assess the efficacy of interventions."

The study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.