New predictive tool for C. difficile 77% effective

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Recurrent cases of C. difficile present healthcare workers with a significant challenge. Now doctors at Harvard Medical School have developed a way to accurately predict who is at risk for the infection.

Between January and May of 1998, doctors at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center followed 63 patients with recurrent C. difficile infections. The data gathered from that study was used to come up with a predictive index for future patients. A second study, which took place between 2004 and 2006 at the same facility, collected similar patient data and applied the original predictive index to the new patients. Researchers found their method for predicting which patients would contract a recurrent case of C. difficile was 77.3% accurate. C. difficile is the number one cause of healthcare-acquired infectious diarrhea in the western world, and significantly contributes to increased rates of morbidity.

Roughly 20% of patients suffer a C. difficile infection, even after successful treatment of a first infection, and in some cases, that risk could jump as high as 65%, according to researchers. These findings could help predict and prevent recurrence of the infection. Findings were published in the journal Gastroenterology, the journal of the American Gastroenterological Association.