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How Do C. diff-Associated Costs Compare With Other HAIs?


Glenn Tillotson, PhD, FIDSA, consultant microbiologist in Durham, NC, explains how costs associated with Clostridium difficile compare with other problematic health care-associated infections.

Interview Transcript (modified slightly for readability):

“Health care-associated infections incur a variable cost. Different pathogens have different effects. For example, we’re beginning to realize that these multidrug-resistant, carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, like Escherichia coli, they tend to cost between $15,000 and $20,000 per infection. And that’s based upon hospitalization and any procedures that are needed. For example, the cost of a day in your average hospital is about $1500 dollars, roughly. And then you’ve got all of the drugs and other extra costs that add up. So, where does Clostridium difficile (C. diff) compare in the league of bad actors?

I think C. diff is in the top 2 or 3. There are the carbapenem-resistant pathogens; there’s an organism called Acinetobacter that incurs costs of anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000 per infection; for C. diff, again, there’s a range and it’s around $10,000 to $15,000 per infection. That is what is currently estimated, but that is based upon the cost of drugs, time in the hospital, and then, all of the other infection control and extra activities that are required to treat someone infected with C. diff. And so, C. diff is certainly in the top 3 or 4 expensive infections.

As you know, 20% to 30% of patients with C. diff do have recurrent disease, and those recurrent incidences add to the overall cost. The cost per infection for C. diff is as I said, but if you want to look at the entire societal cost of C. diff, you need to factor in that 1 in 3, 1 in 4 patients will recur, and therefore, that incident is usually a little bit more complex, and so, it’s going to be the $15,000+. If you take the half million cases of C. diff in this country, the costs start to add up very, very quickly.”
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