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Nosocomial infections in elderly patients in the United States, 1986-1990. National Nosocomial Infections Surveillance System


We analyzed 101,479 nosocomial infections in 75,398 adult patients (greater than 15 years) that were reported to the National Nosocomial Infections Surveillance (NNIS) system between 1986 and 1990 by 89 hospitals using the NNIS hospital-wide surveillance component. Overall, 54% of the infections occurred in elderly patients (greater than or equal to 65 years). In the elderly, 44% of the infections were urinary tract infections (UTIs), 18% were pneumonias, 11% were surgical wound infections (SWIs), 8% were bloodstream infections (BSIs), and the remainder were infections at other sites. When we compared the infections in elderly patients with those in younger adult patients, ages 15 to 64 years, a far greater percentage of the infections in elderly patients were UTIs, and there were more pneumonias than SWIs. Elderly and younger patients with ventilator-associated pneumonia were about 1.5 times more likely to develop a secondary BSI than those with pneumonia not associated with ventilator use. When the pathogens isolated from the infections were compared to those reported to the NNIS system in 1984, the percentage that were coagulase-negative staphylococci had increased in both elderly and younger patients. The patient died in 12% of all of the infections. Surveillance personnel reported that 54% of the infections in elderly infected patients who died were related to death compared with 59% in younger infected patients who died. When the infection was related to the patient’s death, it was most often pneumonia or a BSI. The risk of an infection-related death was significantly higher when the infected patient developed a secondary BSI. Infection prevention efforts should target infections that occur frequently, are amenable to intervention, and have an adverse outcome.

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

Am. J. Med. 1991 Sep;91(3B):289S-293S

PMID: 1928180