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Clostridium difficile Infection in Older Adults: Systematic Review of Efforts to Reduce Occurrence and Improve Outcomes

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OBJECTIVE: Provide a systematic review of the primary literature on efforts to reduce Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) occurrence and improve outcomes in older adults.

DATA SOURCES, STUDY SELECTION, DATA EXTRACTION: PubMed and CINAHL databases were searched for research studies using search terms CDI, CDI prevention, reduction, control, management, geriatric, elderly, adults 65 years of age and older. The MeSH categories Aged and Aged, 80 and older, were used. A second search of PubMed, CINAHL, National Guideline Clearinghouse, and TRIP databases was conducted for primary, secondary, and tertiary literature for CDI epidemiology, burden, and management in adults of all ages, and prevention and management guidelines. Of the 2,263 articles located, 105 were selected for full review: 55 primary and 50 secondary, tertiary. Primary literature selected for full review included studies of interventions to prevent, reduce occurrence, control, manage, or improve outcomes in adults 65 years of age and older. Patient settings included the community, assisted living, nursing facility, subacute care, or hospital.

DATA SYNTHESIS: The main outcome measures for research studies were whether the studied intervention prevented, reduced occurrence, controlled, managed, or improved outcomes. Studies were conducted in acute or long-term hospitals, with a few in nursing facilities. Interventions that prevented or reduced CDI included antibiotic policy changes, education, procedure changes, infection control, and multi-intervention approaches. There were few management studies for adults 65 years of age and older or for all adults with results stratified by age. Treatments studied included efficacy of fidaxomicin, metronidazole, vancomycin, and fecal microbiota transplant. Though clinical outcomes were slightly less robust in those 65 years of age and older, age was not an independent predictor of success or failure. The current prevention and management guidelines for adults of all ages, as well as special considerations in skilled nursing facilities, extracted from the secondary/tertiary literature selected, are summarized.

CONCLUSION: There are a limited number of studies designed for older adults. Our findings suggest that guideline recommendations for adults are adequate and appropriate for older adults. Exposure to antibiotics and Clostridium difficile remain the two major risk factors for CDI, reinforcing the importance of antibiotic stewardship and infection control.
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Keywords: ANTIBIOTIC STEWARDSHIP; CLOSTRIDIUM DIFFICILE; CONTACT PRECAUTIONS; FECAL MICROBIOTA TRANSPLANT; FIDAXOMICIN; GASTROINTESTINAL; INFECTION; INFECTION CONTROL; METRONIDAZOLE; OLDER ADULTS; PROBIOTICS; VANCOMYCIN

Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: 01 January 2017

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  • The Consultant Pharmacist® is the official peer-reviewed journal of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists. It is dedicated exclusively to the medication needs of the elderly in all settings, including adult day care, ambulatory care, assisted living, community, hospice, and nursing facilities. This award-winning journal is a member benefit of ASCP. Individuals who are not members and wish to receive The Consultant Pharmacist® will want to consider joining ASCP.
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