Clostridium difficile infection epidemiology and management: Comparison of results of a prospective study with a retrospective one in a reference teaching and research hospital in Northern Italy


      • Time spent on training may reflect attitude to follow adopted protocols.
      • Training is the most important factor to support new practices.
      • It takes some time before hospital staff could apply protocols in a correct way.
      • Length of hospitalization is a risk factor for development of Clostridium difficile–associated disease.


      Clostridium difficile–associated disease (CDAD) is the most common infectious antibiotic-associated diarrhea and is a growing health care problem. Prevention of Clostridium difficile infection focuses on clinical and epidemiologic infection control measures.


      Between 2008 and 2009, we conducted a retrospective study that showed an incidence of CDAD among the highest reported in the literature. Subsequently, we developed a preventive protocol that was adopted in our hospital in 2010. We then conducted a prospective study to investigate prevalence, incidence, and mortality of CDAD and to compare the results with those of the retrospective study, evaluating adherence to preventive measures and their efficacy.


      In both studies, prevalence and incidence significantly increased in older patients. Crude prevalence was similar in the 2 studies. The incidence rate increased by 36%, with a significant increase only in the C and D wards. In-hospital mortality rose in both prevalent and incident cases. Regarding adhesion to hospital protocol, 77% of prevalent cases were treated with the required procedure. The highest percentage of isolated patients was achieved in C and D wards. In these wards we detected lower training hours per nurse. However, in 2013, we observed a significant decrease in incidence of CDAD and found a hospital prevalence of 0.33%.


      Health care personnel education could be more important than the possibility of isolating infected patients in single rooms.

      Key Words

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