Skin and soft tissue infections and associated complications among commercially insured patients aged 0-64 years with and without diabetes in the U.S

PLoS One. 2013 Apr 10;8(4):e60057. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0060057. Print 2013.


Introduction: Skin and soft tissue infections (SSTIs) are common infections occurring in ambulatory and inpatient settings. The extent of complications associated with these infections by diabetes status is not well established.

Methods: Using a very large repository database, we examined medical and pharmacy claims of individuals aged 0-64 between 2005 and 2010 enrolled in U.S. health plans. Diabetes, SSTIs, and SSTI-associated complications were identified by ICD-9 codes. SSTIs were stratified by clinical category and setting of initial diagnosis.

Results: We identified 2,227,401 SSTI episodes, 10% of which occurred in diabetic individuals. Most SSTIs were initially diagnosed in ambulatory settings independent from diabetes status. Abscess/cellulitis was the more common SSTI group in diabetic and non-diabetic individuals (66% and 59%, respectively). There were differences in the frequencies of SSTI categories between diabetic and non-diabetic individuals (p<0.01). Among SSTIs diagnosed in ambulatory settings, the SSTI-associated complication rate was over five times higher in people with diabetes than in people without diabetes (4.9% vs. 0.8%, p<0.01) and SSTI-associated hospitalizations were 4.9% and 1.1% in patients with and without diabetes, respectively. Among SSTIs diagnosed in the inpatient setting, bacteremia/endocarditis/septicemia/sepsis was the most common associated complication occurring in 25% and 16% of SSTIs in patients with and without diabetes, respectively (p<0.01).

Conclusions: Among persons with SSTIs, we found SSTI-associated complications were five times higher and SSTI-associated hospitalizations were four times higher, in patients with diabetes compared to those without diabetes. SSTI prevention efforts in individuals with diabetes may have significant impact on morbidity and healthcare resource utilization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dermatitis / complications*
  • Dermatitis / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Complications / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Insurance, Health*
  • Middle Aged
  • Soft Tissue Infections / complications*
  • Soft Tissue Infections / epidemiology
  • Young Adult