Adherence to and Outcomes Associated with aClostridium difficileGuideline at a Large Teaching Institution

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The incidence and virulence of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) has recently increased. National CDI treatment guidelines stratify patients based on clinical symptoms and recommend treatment based on severity of illness. In 2009, Advocate Lutheran General Hospital (Park Ridge, Illinois) adopted guidelines with treatment algorithms identical to the national guidelines. The purpose of this study was to determine whether patients were being treated in accordance with the CDI guidelines and whether adherence impacted patient outcomes.


This was a retrospective, descriptive study. Subjects were identified by CDI-associated ICD-9 codes from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2011 and stratified by disease severity. Guideline adherence was assessed based on initial treatment selection, and subjects were then further categorized as undertreated (UT), overtreated (OT), or appropriately treated (AT). Secondary endpoints included need for therapy escalation, clinical cure, recurrence rates, 90-day all-cause mortality, proton pump inhibitor (PPI), and antimicrobial use.


Two hundred fifty subjects totaling 324 encounters were analyzed. Overall guideline adherence was 42.9%. Adherence rates by CDI severity were mild-moderate, 53.9%; severe, 39.0%; and severecomplicated, 17.9% (P < .001). Of all the subjects, 42.9% were AT, 30.9% were OT, and 26.2% were UT. Clinical outcomes between UT versus AT subjects were as follows: therapy escalation required, 34.1% versus 27.5% (P = .289); clinical cure, 41.2% versus 55.7% (P = .033); mortality, 24.7% versus 10.1% (P = .003); and recurrence, 44.7% versus 24.8% (P < .02). Clinical outcomes between AT versus OT subjects were as follows: therapy escalation required 27.5% versus 14.4% (P < .02); clinical cure, 55.7% versus 66.7% (P = .089); mortality, 10.1% versus 7.8% (P = .553); recurrence, 24.8% versus 27.8% (P = .871).


The majority of subjects were not treated according to CDI guidelines, particularly those with severe and severe-complicated disease. UT subjects had worse clinical outcomes and OT subjects failed to show significant improvements in clinical outcomes compared to AT subjects. Emphasis should be placed on CDI guideline adherence as this may be associated with improved outcomes.

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