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Crit Care Med. 2001 Apr;29(4 Suppl):N64-8.

Increasing prevalence of antimicrobial resistance in intensive care units.

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Hospital Infections Program, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA.


The unique nature of the intensive care unit (ICU) environment makes this part of the hospital a focus for the emergence and spread of many antimicrobial-resistant pathogens. There are ample opportunities for the cross-transmission of resistant bacteria from patient to patient, and patients are commonly exposed to broad-spectrum antimicrobial agents. Rates of resistance have increased for most pathogens associated with hospital-acquired infections among ICU patients, and rates are almost universally higher among ICU patients than non-ICU patients. Likewise, ICU patients hospitalized longer (i.e., >7 days) are two- to three-fold more likely to be infected with a pathogen possessing an antimicrobial-resistant phenotype of concern. However, there are many opportunities to prevent the emergence and spread of these resistant pathogens through improved use of established infection control measures (patient isolation, handwashing, glove use, and appropriate gown use) and implementation of a systematic review of antimicrobial use. (Crit Care Med 2001; 29[Suppl.]: N64-N68)

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