Clinical outcomes of health-care-associated infections and antimicrobial resistance in patients admitted to European intensive-care units: a cohort study

Lancet Infect Dis. 2011 Jan;11(1):30-8. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(10)70258-9. Epub 2010 Dec 2.


Background: Patients admitted to intensive-care units are at high risk of health-care-associated infections, and many are caused by antimicrobial-resistant pathogens. We aimed to assess excess mortality and length of stay in intensive-care units from bloodstream infections and pneumonia.

Methods: We analysed data collected prospectively from intensive-care units that reported according to the European standard protocol for surveillance of health-care-associated infections. We focused on the most frequent causative microorganisms. Resistance was defined as resistance to ceftazidime (Acinetobacter baumannii or Pseudomonas aeruginosa), third-generation cephalosporins (Escherichia coli), and oxacillin (Staphylococcus aureus). We defined 20 different exposures according to infection site, microorganism, and resistance status. For every exposure, we compared outcomes between patients exposed and unexposed by use of time-dependent regression modelling. We adjusted results for patients' characteristics and time-dependency of the exposure.

Findings: We obtained data for 119 699 patients who were admitted for more than 2 days to 537 intensive-care units in ten countries between Jan 1, 2005, and Dec 31, 2008. Excess risk of death (hazard ratio) for pneumonia in the fully adjusted model ranged from 1·7 (95% CI 1·4-1·9) for drug-sensitive S aureus to 3·5 (2·9-4·2) for drug-resistant P aeruginosa. For bloodstream infections, the excess risk ranged from 2·1 (1·6-2·6) for drug-sensitive S aureus to 4·0 (2·7-5·8) for drug-resistant P aeruginosa. Risk of death associated with antimicrobial resistance (ie, additional risk of death to that of the infection) was 1·2 (1·1-1·4) for pneumonia and 1·2 (0·9-1·5) for bloodstream infections for a combination of all four microorganisms, and was highest for S aureus (pneumonia 1·3 [1·0-1·6], bloodstream infections 1·6 [1·1-2·3]). Antimicrobial resistance did not significantly increase length of stay; the hazard ratio for discharge, dead or alive, for sensitive microorganisms compared with resistant microorganisms (all four combined) was 1·05 (0·97-1·13) for pneumonia and 1·02 (0·98-1·17) for bloodstream infections. P aeruginosa had the highest burden of health-care-acquired infections because of its high prevalence and pathogenicity of both its drug-sensitive and drug-resistant strains.

Interpretation: Health-care-associated bloodstream infections and pneumonia greatly increase mortality and pneumonia increase length of stay in intensive-care units; the additional effect of the most common antimicrobial resistance patterns is comparatively low.

Funding: European Commission (DG Sanco).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Bacteremia / drug therapy
  • Bacteremia / microbiology*
  • Bacteremia / mortality
  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / drug effects*
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross Infection / drug therapy
  • Cross Infection / microbiology*
  • Cross Infection / mortality
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial*
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / drug therapy
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / microbiology*
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / mortality
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents