Nosocomial infections and their relationship to non-traditional risk factors in a medical intensive care unit
Background. Nosocomial infections are a source of concern for many hospitals in the United States and worldwide. These infections are associated with increased morbidity, mortality and hospital costs. Nosocomial infections occur in ICUs at a rate which is five times greater than those in general wards. Understanding the reasons for the higher rates can ultimately help reduce these infections. The literature has been weak in documenting a direct relationship between nosocomial infections and non-traditional risk factors, such as unit staffing or patient acuity.
Objective. To examine the relationship, if any, between nosocomial infections and non-traditional risk factors. The potential non-traditional risk factors we studied were the patient acuity (which comprised of the mortality and illness rating of the patient), patient days for patients hospitalized in the ICU, and the patient to nurse ratio.
Method. We conducted a secondary data analysis on patients hospitalized in the Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU) of the Memorial Hermann- Texas Medical Center in Houston during the months of March 2008- May 2009. The average monthly values for the patient acuity (mortality and illness Diagnostic Related Group (DRG) scores), patient days for patients hospitalized in the ICU and average patient to nurse ratio were calculated during this time period. Active surveillance of Bloodstream Infections (BSIs), Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) and Ventilator Associated Pneumonias (VAPs) was performed by Infection Control practitioners, who visited the MICU and performed a personal infection record for each patient. Spearman's rank correlation was performed to determine the relationship between these nosocomial infections and the non-traditional risk factors.
Results. We found weak negative correlations between BSIs and two measures (illness and mortality DRG). We also found a weak negative correlation between UTI and unit staffing (patient to nurse ratio). The strongest positive correlation was found between illness DRG and mortality DRG, validating our methodology.
Conclusion. From this analysis, we were able to infer that non-traditional risk factors do not appear to play a significant role in transmission of infection in the units we evaluated.