Health Team

Infections are frequent in ICUs, study finds

Posted December 1, 2009

The risk of patients developing infections while being treated in intensive-care units is a global health problem, researchers say.

A new study determined that at hospitals throughout the world, ICU patients have an additional 10 to 15 percent risk of dying from an infection.

"Therefore, strategies to try to prevent that – to treat it effectively and early – assume a substantial degree of importance when you look at this as a global health problem," said Dr. John Marshall, with St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, Canada.

Researchers examined data from 1,265 ICUs in 75 countries over a single 24-hour period in 2007. The results were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association

Over half of the more than 14,000 patients in ICUs that day had infections, according to the study.

"Sixty percent of the infections were pneumonia, about 20 percent were infections inside the abdomen, and about 15 percent were infections of the urinary tract," Marshall said.

Patients who stayed in an ICU for seven or more days had an increased risk of developing an infection.

Marshall said he hopes the study will help ICU staffs "get a sense as to how much of the burden of infection is an added burden on a patient who is already at risk of dying because of the underlying diseases that led them to be in the intensive-care unit."


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  • Made In USA Dec 3, 2009

    My mother almost died from a staph infection after being in the hospital for a heart attack. Luckily they were able to stop the disease before it killed her. Unfortunately though, her heart finally gave out shortly afterwards after a series of more heart attacks and strokes.

  • BeenHereSince67 Dec 2, 2009

    This has been a problem for many years. Every time someone goes to their Dr. and INSISTS that they be given a prescription for an antibiotic that isn't needed, the effectiveness of that drug against many other bacterial species is reduced. Please try to imagine how difficult it is to reduce the levels of bacterial and viral contamination in hospital rooms inhabited (sometimes) by infected people, so that the next occupant doesn't get sick from those microbes. There is way more to it than changing the sheets! It is a very difficult task, and one that the Infection Control Teams at all hospitals are working on every day. Bacterial (and viral) resistance to drugs is one of the biggest threats to us, yet we continue to ignore our Drs. orders on how and when to take medications.

  • gsmbaby19 Dec 2, 2009

    My father died from an infection he got in an ICU after abdominal surgery. He beat the cancer, only to have an infection kill him.