Heavy drinkers more likely to incur healthcare-associated infections

Hospital patients who have alcohol use disorders (AUDs)--which include alcohol abuse and alcoholism--are more likely to develop healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) during their hospitalizations and face much greater odds of death, according to a new study that appears online and in the July print issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

In the study, the researchers analyzed 2007 data from the U.S. Nationwide Inpatient Sample. They performed a retrospective study of all patients who developed healthcare-associated pneumonia or sepsis--excluding those patients transferred from another healthcare facility or diagnosed with community-acquired infections, immunosuppression, or cancer.

Patients with AUDs who developed HAIs were 71 percent more likely to die and stayed at the hospital an average of two days longer, said Marjolein de Wit, associate professor of medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University and first author of the study. Such patients' hospital costs also were about $7,500 higher than those without AUDs who developed HAIs.

What's more, AUD patients with healthcare-associated pneumonia or sepsis were younger, had a lower income, had frequent emergencies, and experienced less surgery, said fellow researcher Claudia Spies, head of the department of anesthesiology and intensive care medicine at the University Hospital Charité Universitaetsmedizin Berlin.

"However, despite having fewer co-morbidities, they died more often," Spies said. She added in a statement that she was "very concerned to see" more young people with HAIs coming to the hospital too late to be treated adequately. "These young patients with a low income usually do not see a physician unless they have been injured."

For more information:
- see the HealthDay News article
- view Science Daily release

Related Content:
Preventive care poses dilemma for emergency departments
HHS says providers, HIEs must get consent to share substance abuse records electronically