TUESDAY, Oct. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Antibiotic-resistant
infections acquired in hospital intensive care units may be killing
fewer patients than feared, new research suggests.
Infections occur in 1.7 million hospitalized patients every
year, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services. Over the past decade, the rate of resistant infections
that don't respond to most antibiotics has risen in ICUs.
In the study, researchers examined infections in surgical or
trauma ICU patients from 2000 to 2010. They identified 799
drug-resistant pathogens and nearly 1,500 infections acquired in
While rates of drug-resistant infections rose during that
period, death rates from any cause fell by 4 percent.
"The bottom line is that we think that these patients who have infection are not dying from that infection after all; however, they die with that infection because, for example, they are of advanced age and suffered multiple traumatic injuries resulting in high injury severity scores and high acute physiology scores," Dr. Laura Horst Rosenberger, a research fellow in the department of surgery at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, said in an American College of Surgeons news release.
The bacteria that cause the infections are opportunistic, Horst
explained, targeting people who are already very ill and are less
likely to survive because of other factors.
"Patients with the highest risk of infections [elderly, admitted to the ICU, multiple previous co-morbidities, ventilator dependence, previous antibiotic exposure, and so on] generally have the most poor prognosis to begin with. The hospital-acquired infections preferentially affect the most vulnerable patients and the mortality attributable to the infection is relatively small," she said.
The most common pathogens were methicillin-resistant
Staphylococcus aureus(MSRA) and
Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which typically infected the lungs, blood and urine, the study noted.
The study was slated for presentation on Tuesday at the 2011
Annual Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons, in
San Francisco. Because this study was presented at a medical
meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary
until published in a peer-reviewed journal."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides
more information on
antibiotic and antimicrobial resistance.