Safety and Quality > Our Work > Healthcare Associated Infection > Clostridium difficile infection

Clostridium difficile is an anaerobic, spore-forming, gram-positive bacteria typically associated with gastrointestinal disease. This bacteria is ubiquitous in the natural environment as well as in healthcare environments where there is potential for the bacterium to be spread between individuals through direct or indirect contact. The establishment of a C. difficile infection (CDI) is often linked to prolonged and unnecessary use of antimicrobial therapy.

Clostridium difficile infection in Australia

The Commission has developed a mechanism to determine and monitor the national prevalence of CDI in order to enhance understanding about the burden of CDI across the country. Knowing the national CDI burden enables the identification of critical changes in the spread of C. difficile and, in turn, can drive the development and roll out of targeted infection prevention and control and antimicrobial stewardship strategies to counter widespread increases in disease transmission and severity.

Preventing and controlling Clostridium difficile infection in Australian hospitals

In order to identify the measures that are needed in the future to maintain low rates of Clostridium difficile infection in Australia, the Commission established a Community of Practice in 2016 to investigate the variations and gaps associated with the current surveillance and management of Clostridium difficile infection.

The Community of Practice identified that improvements to the management and prevention of Clostridium difficile infection in Australia were impeded by knowledge gaps, practice variations and practical constraints related to laboratory testing, clinical case management, hospital-based surveillance and uncertainty about the burden of disease in the community and identified targeted solutions these barriers to improvement.