Infections May Grow Stronger Each Day in Hospital

Infections contracted in the hospital became more resistant to treatment for every day of hospitalization

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Hospitals can be full of bacteria, which may be why patients are so prone to infections. And new research suggests that, the longer the hospital stay, the harder infections may be to fight.

The World Health Organization reports that infections acquired in health care settings are a major cause of death. Many of these infections are caused by bacteria that resist treatment.

A new study found that each day spent in the hospital increased the chances that infections would not respond to treatment.

"Ask hospital workers to wash their hands before touching you."

John Bosso, PharmD, chair of the South Carolina College of Pharmacy at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, authored the study. He worked with colleagues and students. They presented their findings at an annual American Society for Microbiology conference Sept. 7 in Washington, DC.

The study authors looked at data on 949 infections that occurred at their medical center.

The infections were linked to a bacteria often found in hospitals. The bacteria are called Gram-negative. They are resistant to one or more classes of antibiotics. A European study found that Gram-negative infections may be deadly. They caused two thirds of the 25,000 yearly deaths due to hospital-acquired infections.

Researchers have estimated that 1 in 25 hospital patients have at least one infection tied to their health care setting. Gram-negative bacteria may be to blame for more than 1 in 3 of these infections.

In the new study, about 20 percent of the infections observed in the first few days of hospitalization were tied to Gram-negative bacteria.

The number of these infections climbed steadily over four to five days. At 10 days, they peaked at more than 35 percent.

The risk that an infection would be resistant to treatment rose by 1 percent for each day spent in the hospital, the study authors found.

"Our findings emphasize one of the risks of being in the hospital — acquiring an infection," Dr. Bosso said in a press release. "At the very least, this observation argues against both unnecessary hospitalization and unnecessarily long hospitalization."

The study authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
September 5, 2014
Last Updated:
September 9, 2014