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Hospital infections triple patients' length of stay.

A hospital-acquired infection triples a patient's length of stay and their risk of dying five-fold.

A study in the US looked at rates of Staphylococcus aureus (S aureus) infection in hundreds of hospitals to assess the impact on costs, time in hospital and mortality rates.

The researchers concluded that the infections were an enormous burden on hospitals by significantly increasing costs, length of stays for patients and rates of death compared with those without an infection. S aureus is a bacterium which frequently lives on the skin or in the nose of a healthy individual.

It can cause illnesses ranging from minor skin infections and abscesses to life-threatening conditions such as pneumonia among those patients in hospital.

A growing proportion of S aureus infections are caused by antibiotic resistant strains such as MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus).

The rate of MRSA bloodstream infections in English hospitals fell by 6.1 per cent in 2004/05 compared with 2003/04 - down 472 to a total of 7,212.

The total number of all infections picked up in healthcare settings are said to amount to at least 300,000 a year in England, with an estimated 5,000 deaths and costing the NHS as much as pounds 1 billion.

The latest US research, published in Archives of Internal Medicine, found that S aureus infection was listed as a discharge diagnosis is almost one per cent of all hospital stays in the US - an average of 292,045 stays a year.

The team, from Northwestern Memorial Hospital, calculated that S aureus infections tripled the average length of stay in hospital - from 4.5 days to 14.3 days - compared with stays without an infection.

The charges for care also increased by more than three times - from pounds 7,955 to pounds 27,467.

And the risk of dying in hospital increased by five times - from 2.3 per cent to 11.2 per cent.

Applying these figures across the US would mean S aureus infections in a year result in 2.7 million days in excess length of stay, 9.5 billion dollars in excess charges and close to 12,000 patients dying in hospital
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 9, 2005
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