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Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2009 Dec;30(12):1203-10. doi: 10.1086/648083.

Epidemiology and outcomes of hospitalizations with complicated skin and skin-structure infections: implications of healthcare-associated infection risk factors.

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School of Public Health and Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts, USA.



Healthcare-associated infections are likely to be caused by drug-resistant and possibly mixed organisms and to be treated with inappropriate antibiotics. Because prompt appropriate treatment is associated with better outcomes, we studied the epidemiology of healthcare-associated complicated skin and skin-structure infections (cSSSIs).


Persons hospitalized with cSSSI and a positive culture result.


We conducted a single-center retrospective cohort study from April 2006 through December 2007. We differentiated healthcare-associated from community-acquired cSSSIs by at least 1 of the following risk factors: (1) recent hospitalization, (2) recent antibiotics, (3) hemodialysis, and (4) transfer from a nursing home. Inappropriate treatment was defined as no antimicrobial therapy with activity against the offending pathogen(s) within 24 hours after collection of a culture specimen. Mixed infections were those caused by both a gram-positive and a gram-negative organism.


Among 717 hospitalized patients with cSSSI, 527 (73.5%) had healthcare-associated cSSSI. Gram-negative organisms were more common (relative risk, 1.24 [95% confidence interval, 1.14-1.35) and inappropriate treatment trended toward being more common (odds ratio, 1.29 [95% confidence interval, 0.85-1.95]) in healthcare-associated cSSSI than in community-acquired cSSSI. Mixed cSSSIs occurred in 10.6% of patients with healthcare-associated cSSSI and 6.3% of those with community-acquired cSSSI (P = .082) and were more likely to be treated inappropriately than to be nonmixed infections (odds ratio, 2.42 [95% confidence interval, 1.43-4.10]). Both median length of hospital stay (6.2 vs 2.9 days; P < .001) and mortality rate (6.6% vs 1.1%; P = .003) were significantly higher for healthcare-associated cSSSI than community-acquired cSSSI.


Healthcare-associated cSSSIs are common and are likely to be caused by gram-negative organisms. Mixed infections carry a >2-fold greater risk of inappropriate treatment. Healthcare-associated cSSSIs are associated with increased mortality and prolonged length of hospital stay, compared with community-acquired cSSSIs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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