Background: Knowledge of the pattern of blood stream infection (BSI) in patients in intensive care units (ICUs) can help determine antibiotic prescribing policy and infection control procedures. However, there have been few pediatric-based studies.
Methods: Surveillance of BSI in a pediatric ICU for 3 years, amounting to 131 episodes of significant bacteremia and fungemia.
Results: The incidence of BSI was 39.0 per 1,000 admissions (10.6 per 1,000 bed days). Eighty-four (64.1%) episodes were ICU-acquired, and 27 (20.6%) were community-acquired. Gram-positive, Gram-negative and anaerobic bacteria accounted for 62.2, 30.8 and 1.4%, respectively, of the 143 microorganisms isolated, 5.6% were yeasts. Neisseria meningitidis was the most common species in community-acquired infections, and staphylococci predominated in hospital-acquired episodes. Eighty-seven percent of patients had significant underlying disease, including 60.3% with congenitally acquired conditions. Intravascular devices were the most common source of infection, accounting for 41.2% of all episodes. The crude mortality in children with BSI was 26.5%, compared with 8.1% in those without BSI.
Conclusions: The pattern of BSI in ICUs is partly determined by the type of patient treated. However, some observations are generally applicable, notably the increasing importance of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that are often of low virulence and device-associated. Our experience suggests that universal use of broad spectrum empiric antibiotics to cover these pathogens (which risks further promoting antibiotic resistance) may not improve patient outcome. Our study provides a basis for other pediatric ICUs to evaluate their rates and outcomes of BSI.