[Specific features of nosocomial infections in the elderly at a general hospital center. 5 surveys of annual prevalence]

M Eveillard, L Pisante, A Mangeol, E Dolo, L Guet, M Huang, P Viguier-Leroux, J L Quenon, F Fauvelle
Pathologie-biologie 1998, 46 (10): 741-9
Specific features of nosocomial infections in patients aged 70 years or older admitted to a short-term care medical department in a 400-bed general hospital were studied to assist in designing nosocomial infection control programs for this population. Data from five annual prevalence surveys were evaluated retrospectively. The 517 patients aged 70 years or older were compared to the 1093 patients younger than 70 years. The older patients were more likely to have risk factors for nosocomial infections including severe disease (36.2% vs 19.1%; P < 10(-6)), referral from another department (24.6% vs 17.5%; P < 0.01), a long hospital stay duration (8.5 days vs 3.5 days), mechanical ventilation (4.3% vs 1.6%; P < 0.01), an indwelling urinary catheter (12.0% vs 4.0%; P < 10(-7)), and a long median duration of urinary catheterization (6 days vs 2 days). The prevalence of nosocomial infections was increased nearly two-fold in the older patients (10.3% vs 5.6%; P < 0.01), although the difference was statistically significant only for urinary tract infections (5.4% vs 1.4%; P < 10(-5)), particularly in patients without urinary catheters. After exclusion of all patients with urinary tract infections, the prevalence of nosocomial infections was similar in the older and younger patients (4.3% vs 3.7%) despite a persistently higher frequency of risk factors for nosocomial infection in the older group. These results indicate that urinary tract infection should be the main target of programs aimed at minimizing nosocomial infection in elderly patients admitted to short-term care facilities. Faultless technique is essential during urinary catheter insertion. High-quality nursing care contributes substantially to the prevention of urinary tract infection in noncatheterized patients with urinary incontinence or neurologic disorders.

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