Background: Little is known about the acquisition of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) and whether it represents hospital- or community-acquired infection.
Aim: To test the feasibility and value of using national hospital admissions data from Hospital Episode Statistics to examine trends in CDI in England.
Methods: Hospital Episode Statistics from the period 1997/98 to 2009/10 were used. Time trends were analysed using two different denominators of hospital activity: total admissions and total bed-days. We explored the impact of sociodemographic factors, comorbidity and healthcare pathways on the risk of CDI.
Findings: CDI rates per admission and per bed-days increased from 1997/98 to 2006/07, then decreased significantly by >50% from 2008/9 and 2009/10. This pattern was similar for patients regardless of probable source of infection but the proportion of probable community-acquired CDI cases rose steadily from 7% in 1997/98 to 13% in 2009/10. CDI rates were higher among older patients (odds ratio: >65 years, 10.9), those with more comorbid conditions (odds ratio for Charlson index: >5, 5.6), and among patients admitted as an emergency compared with elective admissions, but no relationship was found with deprivation score.
Conclusion: Our findings support not only the falling trend in CDI found in the national mandatory surveillance scheme from the Health Protection Agency, but a growing proportion of CDI presenting on admission with no evidence of prior hospital exposure in the previous 90 days. We suggest that these may be community-acquired CDI cases.
Copyright Â© 2012 The Healthcare Infection Society. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.