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Snapshot of C. difficile shows higher incidence

December 2008

Published in the December 2008 issue of Today’s Hospitalist

Snapshot of C. difficile shows higher incidence

A one-day survey taken by infectious disease professionals shows that the incidence of C. difficile in American hospitals is much higher than in earlier estimates.

Survey results, which were released last month, found that 13 out of every 1,000 inpatients were infected, a rate that was between 6.5 and 20 times higher than had previously been believed. On any given day, the survey found, more than 7,000 patients are infected nationwide.

The survey was conducted by members of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC). The organization’s 12,000 members submitted data on facilities on one day between May and August 2008.

According to results, 54.4% of patients with C. diff were identified within 48 hours; almost 85% of those patients were in medical services. Results indicated that the majority of patients found to have C. diff were already infected when admitted.

The APIC has released a guide to eliminating C. diff in health care settings. More information is online at www.apic.org.

Drug companies going public with physician fees

Beginning next month, at least two drug companies will begin publicly reporting payments they make to physicians for consulting and speaking fees.

Both Eli Lilly and Merck announced this fall that the companies would establish online databases identifying physicians, payments and the reasons for those payments. Other drug companies may follow suit.

The companies’ announcement came as Congress is expected to vote on a bill next year that would establish a national registry of payments made to physicians by the pharmaceutical industry.

Two states “Minnesota and Vermont “already maintain databases of payments from drug companies to physicians, nurses and other providers. In Minnesota, more than 20% of the state’s physicians received some form of payment. In Vermont, providers, hospitals and universities received $2.25 million in fees and traveling expenses between July 2005 and June 2006.