Starting a movement: An epidemiological audit into the distribution and determinants of Clostridium Difficele infection at an Australian tertiary hospital site

Calum WK Chong, Laurin M Lau, Laura Phua, Nathaniel Teng, Christophe R Berney


The emergence of hypervirulent strains of Clostridioides (Clostridium) difficile over the past few decades has cemented C. difficile infection (CDI) as the most common cause of nosocomial infectious diarrhoea within Australia. This report was initiated to better understand the burden of disease at the Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospital through analysis of CDI incidence, risk factors, and treatment.

The specific objectives of this study were two-fold; 1) to determine the prevalence of hospitalised patients affected with CDI and 2) to identify risk factors for CDI in hospitalised patients.

A retrospective review of all consecutive CDI cases at the Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospital between 1 July 2014 and 31 December 2018 was performed. CDI incidence was calculated based on the number of CDI cases observed per 10,000 patient days. Annual incidence and predisposing antibiotics to CDI were compared via univariate analysis and Student t-tests. Treatment for CDI was compared using contingency analysis via Pearson’s chi-squared analysis.

The CDI diagnoses ranged from 3.2–4.6 (as a proportion of 10,000 occupied bed days) throughout 2014 and 2018. There was a significant decrease in CDI associated with Macrolides between 2017 and 2018 (p=0.03). There was a significant rise in CDI associated with Beta lactamase inhibitors and Penicillins (e.g., Tazobactam/Piperacillin). The majority of CDI patients were treated with single therapy metronidazole during their hospital stays.

CDI risk minimisation presents a significant challenge to all hospital departments. This audit highlights the importance of antibiotic usage influencing in-patient CDI cases and the vital role of multidisciplinary teams (microbiologists, pathologists, physicians, surgeons and pharmacists) in managing and monitoring these patients.
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