Study finds only twenty-five percent of C. diff cases acquired in the hospital ward

Only twenty-five percent of C. diff cases are acquired in the hospital ward, according to a study in PLoS Medicine.

For the study, researchers examined data from September 2007 – March 2010 for three hospitals. During the study period, 1,276 C. difficile isolates were found and compared to other c. diff cases within the same ward. In total, about 25% of cases could be linked to a potential ward-based inpatient source, ranging from 37% in renal/transplant, 29% in hematology/oncology, and 28% in acute/elderly medicine to 6% in specialist surgery.

The authors state that although this is an interesting finding, more research will need to be done to find out if most c. diff cases are actually imported to the hospital. The study did not look at possible transmission between wards or possible transmission from asymptomatic patients.

(Sources: The Advisory Board Daily Briefing, http://advisory.com, Feb 10, 2012; MedPage Today, http://www.medpagetoday.com/, February 8, 2012; PLoS Medicine, http://www.plosmedicine.org, February 2012)