Although Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) is the leading cause of infectious diarrhoea in hospitalized patients, the economic burden of this major nosocomial pathogen for hospitals, third-party payers and society remains unclear. We developed an economic computer simulation model to determine the costs attributable to healthcare-acquired C. difficile infection (CDI) from the hospital, third-party payer and societal perspectives. Sensitivity analyses explored the effects of varying the cost of hospitalization, C. difficile-attributable length of stay, and the probability of initial and secondary recurrences. The median cost of a case ranged from $9179 to $11 456 from the hospital perspective, $8932 to $11 679 from the third-party payor perspective, and $13 310 to $16 464 from the societal perspective. Most of the costs incurred were accrued during a patient's primary CDI episode. Hospitals with an incidence of 4.1 CDI cases per 100 000 discharges would incur costs ≥$3.2 million (hospital perspective); an incidence of 10.5 would lead to costs ≥$30.6 million. Our model suggests that the annual US economic burden of CDI would be ≥$496 million (hospital perspective), ≥$547 million (third-party payer perspective) and ≥$796 million (societal perspective). Our results show that C. difficile infection is indeed costly, not only to third-party payers and the hospital, but to society as well. These results are consistent with current literature citing C. difficile as a costly disease.
© 2011 The Authors. Clinical Microbiology and Infection © 2011 European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.