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Wednesday, 24 February 2010 01:21

Americans die from hospital infections

According to an antibiotic-resistance study from the Extending the Cure investigation, about 48,000 Americans die each year from hospital-acquired infections ('superbugs'). The medical costs to treat these infections are also staggering.

Extending the Cure (ExtendingTheCure.org) is an investigation of antibiotic-resistance within U.S. hospitals by the U.S. organizations Resources for the Future and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The investigation's findings were published in the February 22, 2010 issue of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine under the title 'Clinical and Economic Outcomes Attributable to Health Care-Associated Sepsis and Pneumonia' (Arch Intern Med, Vol. 170 No. 4, February 22, 2010, pp 347-353).

The authors are Drs. Michael R. Eber, Ramanan Laxminarayan, Eli N. Perencevich, and Anup Malani.

According to the 2/23/2010 MedicalNewsToday.com article 'Hospital-Acquired Infections, MRSA, Killed 48,000 Americans In One Year,' the bacterium Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is one common type of infection that contributes to these tens of thousands of U.S. citizens to die from hospital related visits each year.

MRSA commonly causes sepsis (a condition in which the entire body is inflamed, what is called systemic inflammatory response syndrome [SIRS] because of an infection) and pneumonia (an inflammatory condition caused within the lungs that cause abnormal filling of fluids).

Besides causing about 1.7 million U.S. hospitalizations annually due to healthcare-associated infections and the death of about 48,000 people in the United States each year, these hospital-acquired infections also forces the United States, as a whole, to spend over 8 billion dollars annually to treat them.

Page two highlights one of the most serious problems with infections caused by unsanitary conditions within U.S. hospitals.

However, the researchers consider the following statistic to be the most serious finding of their study: Almost 20% of people who develop sepsis following invasive surgery die from it.

The researchers used data from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) database. In all, about 69 million patient records were used consisting of hospital discharges in forty U.S. states between 1998 and 2006.

The use of such a large number of patients is considered 'the largest nationally representative study to date of deaths due to sepsis and pneumonia.' [MedicalNewsToday]

They state in the abstract to their paper: 'In cases associated with invasive surgery, attributable mean length of stay was 10.9 days, costs were $32,900, and mortality was 19.5% for sepsis; corresponding values for pneumonia were 14.0 days, $46,400, and 11.4%, respectively '¦.'

Further, 'In cases not associated with invasive surgery, attributable mean length of stay, costs, and mortality were estimated to be 1.9 to 6.0 days, $5800 to $12,700, and 11.7% to 16.0% for sepsis and 3.7 to 9.7 days, $11,100 to $22,300, and 4.6% to 10.3% for pneumonia '¦.'

Dr. Ramanan Laxminarayan, one of the researchers and authors of the Extending the Cure study, stated, "Infections that are acquired during the course of a hospital stay cost the United States a staggering amount in terms of lives lost and health care costs. Hospitals and other health care providers must act now to protect patients from this growing menace.' [MedicalNewsToday]

Page three concludes with a quote from Dr. Malani, another author of the study.

Dr. Anup Malani, who is also with the Extending the Cure group and another author of the study, stated, 'These superbugs [hospital-acquired infections] are increasingly difficult to treat and, in some cases, trigger infections that ultimately cause the body's organs to shut down." [MedicalNewsToday]

Their abstract concludes by stating, 'Health care-associated sepsis and pneumonia impose substantial clinical and economic costs.'

And, Dr. Malani concludes, 'The nation urgently needs a comprehensive approach to reduce the risk posed by these deadly infections. Improving infection control is a clear way to both improve patient outcomes and lower health care costs.' [MedicalNewsToday]

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