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

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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