Nosocomial bloodstream infection in critically ill patients. Excess length of stay, extra costs, and attributable mortality

JAMA. 1994 May 25;271(20):1598-601. doi: 10.1001/jama.271.20.1598.


Objective: To determine the excess length of stay, extra costs, and mortality attributable to nosocomial bloodstream infection in critically ill patients.

Design: Pairwise-matched (1:1) case-control study.

Setting: Surgical intensive care unit (SICU) in a tertiary health care institution.

Patients: All patients admitted in the SICU between July 1, 1988, and June 30, 1990, were eligible. Cases were defined as patients with nosocomial bloodstream infection; controls were selected according to matching variables in a stepwise fashion.

Methods: Matching variables were primary diagnosis for admission, age, sex, length of stay before the day of infection in cases, and total number of discharge diagnoses. Matching was successful for 89% of the cohort; 86 matched case-control pairs were studied.

Main outcome measures: Crude and attributable mortality, excess length of hospital and SICU stay, and overall costs.

Results: Nosocomial bloodstream infection complicated 2.67 per 100 admissions to the SICU during the study period. The crude mortality rates from cases and controls were 50% and 15%, respectively (P < .01); thus, the estimated attributable mortality rate was 35% (95% confidence interval, 25% to 45%). The median length of hospital stay significantly differed between cases and controls (40 vs 26 days, respectively; P < .01). When only matched pairs who survived bloodstream infection were considered (n = 41), cases stayed in the hospital a median of 54 days vs 30 days for controls (P < .01), and cases stayed in the SICU a median of 15 days vs 7 days for controls (P < .01). Thus, extra hospital and SICU length of stay attributable to bloodstream infection was 24 and 8 days, respectively. Extra costs attributable to the infection averaged $40,000 per survivor.

Conclusions: The attributable mortality from nosocomial bloodstream infection is high in critically ill patients. The infection is associated with a doubling of the SICU stay, an excess length of hospital stay of 24 days in survivors, and a significant economic burden.

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Critical Illness
  • Cross Infection / economics*
  • Cross Infection / mortality*
  • Hospital Bed Capacity, 500 and over
  • Hospital Costs / statistics & numerical data
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Hospitals, University / economics
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units / economics*
  • Intensive Care Units / statistics & numerical data
  • Iowa
  • Length of Stay / economics
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Sepsis / economics*
  • Sepsis / mortality*
  • Survival Rate