Variability in testing policies and impact on reported Clostridium difficile infection rates: results from the pilot Longitudinal European Clostridium difficile Infection Diagnosis surveillance study (LuCID)

K. Davies, G. Davis, F. Barbut, C. Eckert, N. Petrosillo, M. H. Wilcox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Lack of standardised Clostridium difficile testing is a potential confounder when comparing infection rates. We used an observational, systematic, prospective large-scale sampling approach to investigate variability in C. difficile sampling to understand C. difficile infection (CDI) incidence rates. In-patient and institutional data were gathered from 60 European hospitals (across three countries). Testing methodology, testing/CDI rates and case profiles were compared between countries and institution types. The mean annual CDI rate per hospital was lowest in the UK and highest in Italy (1.5 vs. 4.7 cases/10,000 patient bed days [pbds], p < 0.001). The testing rate was highest in the UK compared with Italy and France (50.7/10,000 pbds vs. 31.5 and 30.3, respectively, p < 0.001). Only 58.4 % of diarrhoeal samples were tested for CDI across all countries. Overall, only 64 % of hospitals used recommended testing algorithms for laboratory testing. Small hospitals were significantly more likely to use standalone toxin tests (SATTs). There was an inverse correlation between hospital size and CDI testing rate. Hospitals using SATT or assays not detecting toxin reported significantly higher CDI rates than those using recommended methods, despite testing similar testing frequencies. These data are consistent with higher false-positive rates in such (non-recommended) testing scenarios. Cases in Italy and those diagnosed by SATT or methods NOT detecting toxin were significantly older. Testing occurred significantly earlier in the UK. Assessment of testing practice is paramount to the accurate interpretation and comparison of CDI rates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Sep 2 2016


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

Cite this