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Warning: Going to the hospital may be hazardous to your health

December 1, 2009 |  1:01 pm

If you don’t believe it, check out a study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Assn.

Icu An international group of researchers examined data on 13,796 adult patients from 1,265 hospitals in 75 countries who were unlucky enough to be in an intensive care unit on May 8, 2007. Here’s a summary of what they found:

  • Fifty-one percent of ICU patients had some sort of infection. That’s up from 45% in a similar study from 1995.
  • The longer you’re in the hospital, the more likely you are to become infected. “Only” 32% of patients who had been in the ICU for a day or less had an infection of some kind, but the comparable figure for patients who had spent more than a week in the unit topped 70%.
  • The mortality rate for ICU patients with an infection was 25%, compared with 11% for patients without an infection.
  • The most common infection site was the respiratory tract (64%), followed by the abdomen (20%), bloodstream (15%) and renal/urinary tract (14%).
  • Infection rates in North America were slightly below average, at 48%, but the lowest rate was in Africa, at 46%. The highest infection rate was 60%, found in Central and South America.

-- Karen Kaplan

Photo: What are the odds of picking up a nasty bug in the ICU? About 50-50, according to a new study. Credit: Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times

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