Objective: To determine the prevalence of health care-associated infection (HAI) in older people in acute care hospitals, detailing the specific types of HAI and specialties in which these are most prevalent.
Design: Secondary analysis of the Scottish National Healthcare Associated Infection Prevalence Survey data set.
Patients and setting: All inpatients in acute care (n = 11,090) in all acute care hospitals in Scotland (n = 45).
Results: The study found a linear relationship between prevalence of HAI and increasing age (P<.0001) in hospital inpatients in Scotland. Urinary tract infections and gastrointestinal infections represented the largest burden of HAI in the 75-84- and over-85-year age groups, and surgical-site infections represented the largest burden in inpatients under 75 years of age. The prevalence of urinary catheterization was higher in each of the over-65 age groups (P<.0001). Importantly, this study reveals that a high prevalence of HAI in inpatients over the age of 65 years is found across a range of specialties within acute hospital care. An increased prevalence of HAI was observed in medical, orthopedic, and surgical specialties.
Conclusions: HAI is an important outcome indicator of acute inpatient hospital care, and our analysis demonstrates that HAI prevalence increases linearly with increasing age (P<.0001). Focusing interventions on preventing urinary tract infection and gastrointestinal infections would have the biggest public health benefit. To ensure patient safety, the importance of age as a risk factor for HAI cannot be overemphasized to those working in all areas of acute care.