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Long Hospital Stays Increase Risk of Infection
- Updated: September 8, 2014
For years, people have joked that the longer someone stays in the hospital, the greater risk there is for developing an infection. A new study has now confirmed this to be true. According to scientists from the Medical University of South Carolina, increased risk of infection is linked to longer hospital stays. However, a bigger problem is that bacteria responsible have been proven to be drug-resistant.
This study consisted of 949 cases of a drug-resistant bug called Gram-negative bacteria being examined. Looking back at cases from 1998 to 2011, experts discovered that for every day a person spends in the hospital, the likeliness of developing an infection associated with bacteria increases by 1%.
It was also found as part of this study that approximately 20% of infections developed in the first few days of hospitalization were caused by several different drug-resistant strains. However, after a four to five-day stay, risk of those very infections rose by 20% and after 10 days, up to 35%.
The specific bacteria in question, Gram-negative, contains cells that are extremely difficult to kill. These cells include infection-causing bugs such as pneumonia, meningitis, surgical site infections, and bloodstream infections. As stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Gram-negative bacteria are among those resistant to antibiotics.
According to John Bosso with the Medical University of South Carolina, somehow, Gram-negative bacteria can find new ways to get around antibiotics and pass along genetic materials. Because of this, they cause other bacteria to also become drug-resistant. Using the information gathered from the study, he states that a minimum, there are reasons to avoid both unnecessary and long-term hospital stays.
Bosso goes on to say that because of this study, risks of being hospitalized are much clearer. The study, which was presented at the 54th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, gives researchers, scientists, and medical professionals a unique opportunity to make changes that would decrease risk of infection in some cases.
A different study done in Europe suggests that infections connected to Gram-negative bacteria result in approximately 25,000 deaths each year. This information is supported by the CDC, which states that in 2011 alone, there was an estimated 722,000 infections associated with hospitalization, as well as an approximate 75,000 deaths.