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Comparison of rates of nosocomial infections in neonatal intensive care units in the United States. National Nosocomial Infections Surveillance System


To determine nosocomial infection (NI) rates among neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) that are useful for interhospital comparison, we analyzed data reported in 1986-1990 from 35 hospitals that have level III NICUs and used standard National Nosocomial Infections Surveillance protocols and NI site definitions. Overall rates of NI were calculated as the number of NI per 100 patients (overall NI patient rates) or the number of NI per 1,000 NICU patient-days (overall NI patient-day rates). A strong positive association was found between overall NI patient rates and the neonates’ average length of stay, a marker for duration of exposure to important risk factors. No correlation was found between overall NI patient-day rates and average length of stay. However, a strong positive correlation between overall NI patient-day rates and a measure of device utilization (total device-days/total patient-days x 100) was found. Additionally, a positive correlation between overall NI patient rates and device utilization was found. Stratification among the three birthweight groups (less than 1,500 g, 1,500-2,500 g, greater than 2,500 g) did not eliminate the need to control for variations in these factors among NICUs. Device-associated, device-day infection rates, calculated as the number of umbilical or central line-associated blood-stream infections per 1,000 umbilical or central line-days and the number of ventilator-associated pneumonias per 1,000 ventilator days, were not correlated with a unit’s site-specific device utilization. These data suggest that calculation of device-associated NI rates in NICUs using device-days as the denominator helps to control for the duration of exposure to the primary risk factor and will be more meaningful for purposes of interhospital comparison.

Gaynes RP, Martone WJ, Culver DH, Emori TG, Horan TC, Banerjee SN, Edwards JR, Jarvis WR, Tolson JS, Henderson TS

Am. J. Med. 1991 Sep;91(3B):192S-196S

PMID: 1928164