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Clostridium difficile infections (CDI) (CMS)

Why is this measure important?

Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) infections are a common cause of bacterial diarrhea in hospital patients. Most CDIs occur in patients who are taking antibiotics. Antibiotics can kill bad germs, but they can also kill good germs that protect against CDIs. The C. difficile organism can be found in feces and can be transferred from infected patients or contaminated surfaces. Patients can also become infected with C. difficile if they touch contaminated objects or surfaces and then touch their mouths.

Hospital staff members can prevent most C. difficile infections by following the infection control guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Hospitals following these safety guidelines will likely have low numbers in this measure.

What does this measure show?

The C. difficile infection score is shown as a Standardized Infection Ratio (SIR). This ratio is found by comparing the number of C. difficile infections at Northwestern Medicine to a national benchmark. It only includes patients who had symptoms of C. difficile infection and tested positive after they were in the hospital for four or more days.

For this measure, a lower number is better.