The burden of clostridium difficile infection: Estimates of the incidence of CDI from U.S. Administrative databases

Margaret A. Olsen, Yinong Young-Xu, Dustin Stwalley, Ciarán P. Kelly, Dale N. Gerding, Mohammed J. Saeed, Cedric Mahé, Erik R. Dubberke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Background: Many administrative data sources are available to study the epidemiology of infectious diseases, including Clostridium difficile infection (CDI), but few publications have compared CDI event rates across databases using similar methodology. We used comparable methods with multiple administrative databases to compare the incidence of CDI in older and younger persons in the United States. Methods: We performed a retrospective study using three longitudinal data sources (Medicare, OptumInsight LabRx, and Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project State Inpatient Database (SID)), and two hospital encounter-level data sources (Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) and Premier Perspective database) to identify CDI in adults aged 18 and older with calculation of CDI incidence rates/100,000 person-years of observation (pyo) and CDI categorization (onset and association). Results: The incidence of CDI ranged from 66/100,000 in persons under 65 years (LabRx), 383/100,000 in elderly persons (SID), and 677/100,000 in elderly persons (Medicare). Ninety percent of CDI episodes in the LabRx population were characterized as community-onset compared to 41 % in the Medicare population. The majority of CDI episodes in the Medicare and LabRx databases were identified based on only a CDI diagnosis, whereas almost 3/4 of encounters coded for CDI in the Premier hospital data were confirmed with a positive test result plus treatment with metronidazole or oral vancomycin. Using only the Medicare inpatient data to calculate encounter-level CDI events resulted in 553 CDI events/100,000 persons, virtually the same as the encounter proportion calculated using the NIS (544/100,000 persons). Conclusions: We found that the incidence of CDI was 35 % higher in the Medicare data and fewer episodes were attributed to hospital acquisition when all medical claims were used to identify CDI, compared to only inpatient data lacking information on diagnosis and treatment in the outpatient setting. The incidence of CDI was 10-fold lower and the proportion of community-onset CDI was much higher in the privately insured younger LabRx population compared to the elderly Medicare population. The methods we developed to identify incident CDI can be used by other investigators to study the incidence of other infectious diseases and adverse events using large generalizable administrative datasets.

Original languageEnglish
Article number177
JournalBMC Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 22 2016


  • Administrative data
  • Claims data
  • Clostridium difficile
  • Hospital-acquired infectio
  • Incidence
  • Medicare data


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