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Screening for C. diff could identify at risk patients

May 1, 2013

WASHINGTON — Testing patients with just three risk factors upon hospital admission has potential to identify nearly three out of four asymptomatic carriers of Clostridium difficile (C. diff), according to a press release.

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, analyzed stool samples from 320 patients showing no symptoms of C. diff at hospital admission using a real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay; samples from 31 of 320 patients tested positive for C. diff, resulting in a colonization rate of 9.7 percent, the release stated.

According to the release, one or more of the three independent risk factors were present in 155 (48 percent) of study participants, and screening only those with one or more of these factors would have identified 23 C. diff carriers (74 percent).

"In our population, by targeting those with identified risk factors, we would need to screen approximately half of those patients with anticipated stays longer than 24 hours, to identify three-fourths of those colonized with C. diff. This is in the range of previously published screening efficiency rates for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)," said the authors of the study.

"Our objective was to estimate the burden of asymptomatic C. diff carriers at admission because that constitutes an important checkpoint where risk factors can be assessed and infection prevention measures instituted," the authors added.

Click here to read the release in its entirety.