The Role of Diagnostic Stewardship in Clostridioides difficile Testing: Challenges and Opportunities

Frances J. Boly, Kimberly A. Reske, Jennie H. Kwon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Purpose of Review: Accurate and timely diagnosis of Clostridioides difficile infection (CDI) is imperative to prevent C. difficile transmission and reduce morbidity and mortality due to CDI, but CDI laboratory diagnostics are complex. The purpose of this article is to review the role of laboratory tests in the diagnosis of CDI and the role of diagnostic stewardship in optimization of C. difficile testing. Recent Findings: Results from C. difficile diagnostic tests should be interpreted with an understanding of the strengths and limitations inherent in each testing approach. Use of highly sensitive molecular diagnostic tests without accounting for clinical signs and symptoms may lead to over-diagnosis of CDI and increased facility CDI rates. Current guidelines recommend a two-step, algorithmic approach for testing. Diagnostic stewardship interventions, such as education, order sets, order search menus, reflex orders, hard and soft stop alerts, electronic references, feedback and benchmarking, decision algorithms, and predictive analytics, may help improve use of C. difficile laboratory tests and CDI diagnosis. The diagnostic stewardship approaches with the highest reported success rates include computerized clinical decision support (CCDS) interventions, face-to-face feedback, and real-time evaluations. Summary: CDI is a clinical diagnosis supported by laboratory findings. Together, clinical evaluation combined with diagnostic stewardship can optimize the accurate diagnosis of CDI.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7
JournalCurrent Infectious Disease Reports
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020


  • Clostridioides difficile
  • diagnostic stewardship


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