Healthcare Costs of Staphylococcus Aureus and Clostridium Difficile Infections in Veterans: Role of Vitamin D Deficiency

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Clostridium difficile and staphylococcal infections are associated with increased morbidity, mortality and healthcare costs. Vitamin D deficiency may also contribute to increased healthcare costs. There is increasing evidence that vitamin D may have an antimicrobial role. We examined the relationship of serum 25(OH)D levels to staphylococcal and C. difficile infections to determine if vitamin D deficiency was associated with adverse outcomes. In the outpatient setting, vitamin D deficiency in patients with C. difficile and staphylococcal infections were associated with significantly increased total outpatients costs and fee-based consultation. Laboratory expenses had a trend towards higher costs in the vitamin D-deficient group but did not reach statistical significance. The differences were most clearly seen in the in-patient group with enhanced laboratory, pharmacy and radiology costs. These differences resulted in vitamin D-deficient patients with C. difficile or staphylococcal infections having costs more than five times higher than the non-deficient patients. The total length of hospital stay was four times greater in the vitamin D-deficient group. In addition, the total number of hospitalizations was also significantly greater in the vitamin D-deficient group. Surgery costs demonstrated a tendency to be higher in the vitamin D-deficient group but failed to reach statistical significance. Vitamin D deficiency is intimately linked to adverse health outcomes and costs in Veterans with staphylococcal and C. difficile infections in North East Tennessee. We recommend that vitamin D status be checked in patients with these infections and appropriate therapy be instituted to restore vitamin D level to normal in an expeditious manner.