Intensive care unit (ICU) infections can lengthen hospital stays

Originally published in Insidermedicine

More than half of patients in intensive care units (ICUs) worldwide are suffering from infections, which lengthen their hospital stays and increase their mortality rate, according to research published in the December 2 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Intensive care unit (ICU) infections can lengthen hospital stays According to the Infectious Diseases Society of America, basic practices for prevention of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in acute care settings include:

• Conducting an MRSA risk assessment

• Implementing an MRSA monitoring program

• Promoting compliance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or World Health Organization hand-hygiene recommendations

Researchers out of Erasme Hospital, Université libre de Bruxelles in Belgium collected demographic, physiologic, bacteriological, therapeutic, and outcome data from 14,414 patients being treated in 1,265 ICUs in 75 countries. All data were collected for a single date: May 8, 2007. Analyses focused on the 13,796 patients who were aged 18 or older.

On the study date, 51% of patients were classified as infected and 71% were receiving antibiotics, either as prophylaxis or treatment. Infections were of a respiratory nature 64% of the time, and 70% of infected patients had positive microbial isolates, with 47% of the positive isolates being gram-positive, 62% being gram-negative, and 19% being fungal. Infection, especially antibiotic-resistant infection, rates increased as ICU stay lengthened, and infected patients had longer ICU and hospital stays as well as more than double the mortality rate.

Today’s research highlights the problem of infection control in hospital ICUs worldwide and demonstrates the need for more rational use of antibiotic therapies.

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