The economic burden of Clostridium difficile

S. M. McGlone, R. R. Bailey, S. M. Zimmer, M. J. Popovich, Y. Tian, P. Ufberg, R. R. Muder, B. Y. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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 $11456 from the hospital perspective, $8932 to $11679 from the third-party payor perspective, and $13310 to $16464 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 100000 discharges would incur costs ≥$3.2million (hospital perspective); an incidence of 10.5 would lead to costs ≥$30.6million. Our model suggests that the annual US economic burden of CDI would be ≥$496million (hospital perspective), ≥$547million (third-party payer perspective) and ≥$796million (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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)282-289
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Microbiology and Infection
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Burden
  • Clostridium difficile
  • Cost
  • Economics
  • Stochastic model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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