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Postgrad Med. 2001 Feb;109(2 Suppl):3-9. doi: 10.3810/pgm.02.2001.suppl12.60.

Emerging healthcare-associated problem pathogens in the United States.

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Investigation and Prevention Branch, Hospital Infections Program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road NW, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA.


Healthcare-associated infections are a major cause of morbidity and mortality. Dramatic changes in the delivery of healthcare during the past decade have changed the definition of healthcare-associated infections. Healthcare delivery changes include a reduction in the number of general hospital beds, an increase in the proportion of patients who are in intensive care units, a larger proportion of surgical procedures performed as outpatient procedures, a marked increase in patients cared for in outpatient settings, and an increase in the delivery of healthcare in the home setting. These changes have blurred the border between hospital- and community-acquired infections, increased the challenge of controlling transmission of antimicrobial-resistant pathogens, and complicated clinicians' treatment decisions. Data from the National Nosocomial Infections Surveillance system show that between the periods of 1993-1997 and 1998, infections caused by vancomycin-resistant enterococci, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), methicillin-resistant coagulase-negative staphylococci, and imipenem- or quinolone-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa have significantly increased. In addition, we have witnessed the emergence of vancomycin-intermediate resistant S aureus and the community transmission of MRSA. If we are to turn the tide on the continued emergence of antimicrobial-resistant pathogens, we will need to enhance and expand our infection control programs in all settings in which healthcare is provided and improve the appropriateness of antimicrobial use.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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