OBJECTIVE: To describe the epidemiology of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) in veterans with spinal cord injury and disorder (SCI&D). DESIGN: Retrospective medical record review. SETTING: Midwestern Department of Veterans Affairs spinal cord injury center. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 226 patients with SCI&D hospitalized at least once during a 2-year period (October 1, 2001, through September 30, 2003). RESULTS: A total of 549 hospitalizations were included in the analysis (mean duration of hospitalization, 33.7 days); an HAI occurred during 182 (33.2%) of these hospitalizations. A total of 657 HAIs occurred during 18,517 patient-days in the hospital (incidence rate, 35.5 HAIs per 1,000 patient-days). Almost half of the 226 patients had at least 1 HAI; the mean number of HAIs among these patients was 6.0 HAIs per patient. The most common HAIs were urinary tract infection (164 [25.0%] of the 657 HAIs; incidence rate, 8.9 cases per 1,000 patient-days), bloodstream infection (111 [16.9%]; incidence rate, 6.0 cases per 1,000 patient-days), and bone and joint infection (103 [15.7%]; incidence rate, 5.6 cases per 1,000 patient-days). The most common culture isolates were gram-positive bacteria (1,082 [45.6%] of 2,307 isolates), including Staphylococcus aureus, and gram-negative bacteria (1,033 [43.6%] of isolates), including Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Multivariable regression demonstrated that predictors of HAI were longer length of hospital stay (P=.002), community-acquired infection (P=.007), and use of a urinary invasive device (P=.01) or respiratory invasive device (P=.04). CONCLUSIONS: The overall incidence of HAIs in persons with SCI&D was higher than that reported for other populations, confirming the increased risk of HAI in persons with spinal cord injury. The increased risk associated with longer length of stay and with community-acquired infection suggests that strategies are needed to reduce the duration of hospitalization and to effectively treat community-acquired infection, to decrease infection rates. There is significant room for improvement in reducing the incidence of HAIs in this population.
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