A study out today of 155,891 trauma patients found that those who develop infections in the hospital are more likely to die during their stay than others. Seems obvious, right? Yet this study is big news, since it provides concrete evidence of the extent and the danger of hospital-acquired infections, which are far more common and deadly than many people understand.
In this study, researchers found that trauma patients who develop serious bloodstream infections are six times more likely to die during their stay than those without an infection. And people who develop other infections, such as pneumonia or MRSA, are 1.5 to 1.9 times more likely to die. Patients with infections also had hospital stays roughly twice as long and hospital costs roughly twice as high as those who didnt have infections.
In an editorial accompanying the article, H.Scott Bjerke, M.D., at the Research Medical Center in Kansas City, Mo., says:
Infections make trauma patients sicker and sicker patients do worse; they die more, they consume more resources, and they stay longer. Or as my teenage son would say, Duh, Dad, everyone knows that. So why do we need another article that states the obvious?
The reason, says Berke, is that as obvious as the problem is, in many ways it has not yet been adequately addressed by hospitals and health-care providers. And it remains underappreciatedto our harm. In fact, research suggests that hospital infections kill more than 90,000 Americans each year, making them one of the top 5 leading causes of death in the U.S.