Risk factors for C. difficile Infection

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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Drug-Resistant Superbugs, Multi-drug Resistant Organisms: MRSA, VRE, Clostridium difficile, and CRE. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

Learn more about Drug-Resistant Superbugs, Multi-drug Resistant Organisms: MRSA, VRE, Clostridium difficile, and CRE (online CE course)
Risk factors for C. difficile Infection

The incidence of C. difficile infection varies considerably but is increasing worldwide, largely due to widespread use of broad-spectrum antibiotics.
The risk factors associated with C. difficile infection and colitis are:
  • Antimicrobial use
    • Length of course
    • Multiple antibiotics
  • Hospitalization
    • Length of stay
    • Illness & weakness
    • Presence of spores in hospitals and long-term care facilities (LTCF)
  • Age
    • Advanced age > 65 (weakened immune systems)
    • Young children (immature immune systems)
  • Underlying disease (weakened immune system)
  • Use of proton pump inhibitors, gastric acid suppressants, or anti-ulcer medications that decrease acidity levels in stomach/gastrointestinal (GI) tract, which can alter normal flora and allow C. difficile to proliferate
  • Chemotherapeutic drugs (weakened immune system)
  • Laxative use
  • GI surgery or non-surgical invasive procedures such as intubation