Nursing Homes Urged to Continue Tracking, Reporting Clostridium difficile Data

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Health care-associated infections such as Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) often result in considerable suffering for patients and increased costs for the health care system. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 80 percent of deaths associated with C. difficile occur among Americans age 65 or older.

To better understand the scale and scope of these infections, nursing homes have tracked and reported data to the CDC’s National Health Care Safety Network (NHSN) for the past 16 months as part of a nationwide initiative.

Currently, the CDC is analyzing the data to learn more about the characteristics of nursing homes with increased rates of infection, as well as to establish a national rate for C. difficile in nursing homes for the first time.

To help advance this effort, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the CDC are encouraging nursing homes to continue tracking and reporting data to NHSN in 2018 as the national baseline is developed, and on an ongoing basis as part of routine infection surveillance.

“The partnership between nursing homes, QIN-QIOs, CDC and CMS to collect data on C. difficile among nursing home residents has been invaluable in our work to support a culture of resident safety,” said Angel Davis, a registered nurse and CMS subject matter expert. “Ultimately, this effort will help save lives through C. difficile prevention and reduction.”

In addition to establishing a national baseline rate, the data can be used to identify risk and protective factors; evaluate intervention effectiveness; monitor incidence and outbreaks; and generate important research questions. The data is also valuable for individual nursing home quality improvement purposes, including antibiotic stewardship and C. difficile prevention and management.