The high cost of inappropriate empiric treatment of presumed Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 2 million patients annually acquire an infection while hospitalized in U.S. hospitals for other health problems, and that 88,000 die as a direct or indirect result of these infections. Infection with Clostridium difficile is the most important common cause of health care associated infectious diarrhea in industrialized countries. The purpose of this study was to explore the cost of current treatment practice of beginning empiric metronidazole treatment for hospitalized patients with diarrhea prior to identification of an infectious agent. The records of 70 hospitalized patients were retrospectively analyzed to determine the pharmacologic treatment, laboratory testing, and radiographic studies ordered and the median cost for each of these was determined. All patients in the study were tested for C. difficile and concurrently started on empiric metronidazole. The median direct cost for metronidazole was $7.25 per patient (95% CI 5.00, 12.721). The median direct cost for laboratory charges was $468.00 (95% CI 339.26, 552.58) and for radiology the median direct cost was $970.00 (95% CI 738.00, 3406.91). Indirect costs, which are far greater than direct costs, were not studied. At St. Luke's, if every hospitalized patient with diarrhea was empirically treated with metronidazole at a median cost of $7.25, the annual direct cost is estimated to be over $9,000.00 plus uncalculated indirect costs. In the U.S., the estimated annual direct cost may be as much as $21,750,000.00, plus indirect costs. An unexpected and significant finding of this study was the inconsistency in testing and treatment of patients with health care associated diarrhea. A best-practice model for C. difficile testing and treatment was not found in the literature review. In addition to the cost savings gained by not routinely beginning empiric treatment with metronidazole, significant savings and improvement in patient care may result from a more consistent approach to the diagnosis and treatment of all patients with health care associated diarrhea. A decision tree model for C. difficile testing and treatment is proposed, but further research is needed to evaluate the decision arms before a validated best practice model can be proposed.
Public health|Health care
Cahilly, Karen L, "The high cost of inappropriate empiric treatment of presumed Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea" (2008). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1450267.