(HealthDay News) — Allowing bedside nurses to independently order stool testing for Clostridioides difficile (C. difficile) significantly decreases the amount of time to receive test results versus requiring physician approval, according to a study published online May 10 in the American Journal of Infection Control.

Ashley Bartlett, M.D., from the Fargo Veterans Affairs Healthcare System in North Dakota, and colleagues evaluated the impact of a policy that allowed bedside nurses to order C. difficile testing on the time to obtain test results and initiate treatment. The analysis included results from a single Veterans Affairs system site 44 months prior to and 59 months after the change in policy.

The researchers found that the difference in time to obtain the result before and after the policy change was statistically significant. Additionally, the difference in time to obtain the result significantly differed by ordering provider type, with nurses significantly associated with faster test results compared with physicians (odds ratio, 1.72). There was no significant difference observed in time to initiate treatment (1.7 hours before and after policy change).

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“Given the implications of C. difficile infection on both a hospital and patient level, incentives exist for improving approaches to the prevention and spread of this infection in the clinical environment,” Bartlett in a statement. “Our findings suggest that allowing bedside nurses with appropriate training to order C. diff testing based on patient symptomology could be a valid strategy to help health care systems achieve this goal.”

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