- Patients in hospital beds previously occupied by a person treated with antibiotics are at increased risk of developing Clostridium difficile, according to a study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine.
- The retrospective cohort study found CDI was 22% more likely to occur among adult patients if a previous bed occupant had received antibiotic treatment for a non-CDI infection .
- The CDC has categorized C. difficile as an urgent drug-resistant threat, directly attributing about 15,000 deaths to the infection caused by the pathogen.
The increased risk is significant because of the frequency with which antibiotics are being used in hospitals today, the researchers said. “Antibiotics given to one patient may alter the local microenvironment to influence a different patient’s risk for CDI,” they explained.
The study, led by Daniel Freedberg of Columbia University Medical Center, comes on the heels of CDC research showing a significant increase in the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics in hospitals. The agency has been encouraging providers to practice antibiotic stewardship to cut down on the threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Even though it can be prevented with hand-washing protocols and other cleaning procedures, C. difficile has been deemed an urgent threat and about one-third of hospitals of more than 3,100 U.S. hospitals received a poor rating for their infection control of the pathogen in a recent Consumer Reports review.
In August 2015, the CDC projected increases in drug-resistant infections and C. difficile without immediate, nationwide improvements in infection control and antibiotic prescribing. Last month, the CDC launched a prize competition aimed at spurring development of rapid, point-of-care diagnostic tests to detect and distinguish antibiotic-resistant bacteria and tests to distinguish between bacterial and viral infections. The goal is cut down on unnecessary antibiotic use.