Implementing a Clostridium difficile testing algorithm and its effect on isolation duration and treatment initiation: a pre- and post-implementation study

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A proportion of patients suspected of Clostridium difficile infection are unnecessarily placed in contact isolation. By introducing a random-access glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH) test for C. difficile, we aimed to reduce isolation time. In addition, we investigated whether the result of the toxin A&B enzyme immunoassay (EIA) was associated with the decision to initiate antibiotic treatment against C. difficile. This retrospective pre- and post-implementation study was from June 3, 2016, to June 4, 2018. Pre-implementation, only a NAAT was performed. In the post-implementation period, a GDH test was performed; if positive, a toxin A&B EIA followed the same day and subsequently a NAAT. Contact isolation for CDI was discontinued when the GDH test was negative. Median time in isolation was 50.8 h pre-implementation (n = 189) versus 28.0 h post-implementation (n = 119), p < 0.001. The GDH test had a negative predictive value of 98.8% (95% CI 97.9–99.4). In 7/31 (22.6%) patients with a positive NAAT and GDH test and a negative toxin A&B EIA, no antibiotics against C. difficile were initiated versus 4/28 (14.3%) patients who were NAAT, GDH and toxin A&B EIA positive. Introducing a random-access screening test resulted in a significant decrease in patient isolation time. The GDH test had a high negative predictive value making it suitable to determine whether contact isolation can be discontinued. Furthermore, the result of a toxin A&B EIA had limited added value on the percentage of patients in whom antibiotic treatment against C. difficile was initiated.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020

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