One reason she chose the topic: The surprise that no one had done it before.
C. diff infection is one of the most common health care-associated infections in the U.S., affecting nearly 500,000 people a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Long thought of as a condition that happens only in hospital settings, C. diff infections are also on the rise outside of them — including in patients getting infusion therapies at home, such as chemotherapy.
This gave Jessica an idea: apply her interest in studying infectious diseases to find out what factors put home infusion patients at risk for contracting a C. diff infection.
As she started the research, she found no national measure of C. diff infections in the home infusion setting. In fact, she found very little clinical data about this problem anywhere.
“To our knowledge, this is the first study identifying common C. diff infection risk factors in the home infusion population,” says Jessica, who served as primary investigator of a small research team at Fairview Pharmacy. “Contributing to the home infusion field with clinical data that can help the entire industry is significant.”
Jessica's work is the latest in a long line of research projects by residents at Fairview Pharmacy, going back nearly 20 years.
Fairview first hosted a pharmacy resident in 1965. This year, 33 pharmacy residents will work with a staff member to present findings in a professional setting as Jessica did.
As with any single study, Jessica says the research needs to continue in order to solidify the conclusions, particularly given the small sample size. Still, her research found that there may be some risk factors that hadn’t been understood before.
“There are risk factors that are well recognized, such as age and recent antibiotic use, but we found that there may be some risk factors associated with C. diff infections that are specific to the home infusion population,” Jessica says.
The data will be used to help Fairview Home Infusion develop interventions to reduce the rate of C. diff infections in patients. Jessica’s research was published in the May/June issue of the National Home Infusion Association’s INFUSION magazine, furthering the reach of her work across the industry.
“I am proud,” Jessica says, “to have been able to lay the groundwork for research in the home infusion community.”