Objective: The first 70 years of critical care can be considered a period of "industrial revolution-like" advancement in terms of progressing the understanding and care of critical illness. Unfortunately, like the industrial revolution's impact on the environment, advancing ICU care of increasingly elderly, immunosuppressed, and debilitated individuals has resulted in a greater overall burden and complexity of nosocomial infections within modern ICUs. Given the rapid evolution of nosocomial infections, the authors provide an updated review.
Data sources and study selection: We searched PubMed and OVID for peer-reviewed literature dealing with nosocomial infections in the critically ill, as well as the websites of government agencies involved with the reporting and prevention of nosocomial infections. Search terms included nosocomial infection, antibiotic resistance, microbiome, antibiotics, and intensive care.
Data extraction and data synthesis: Nosocomial infections in the ICU setting are evolving in multiple domains including etiologic pathogens plus novel or emerging pathogens, prevalence, host risk factors, antimicrobial resistance, interactions of the host microbiome with nosocomial infection occurrence, and understanding of pathogenesis and prevention strategies. Increasing virulence and antimicrobial resistance of nosocomial infections mandate increasing efforts toward their prevention.
Conclusions: Nosocomial infections are an important determinant of outcome for patients in the ICU setting. Systematic research aimed at improving the prevention and treatment of nosocomial infections is still needed.
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