Background: A recent study concluded that between 1980 and 1992, deaths from infectious diseases increased 58%. This article explores trends in infectious diseases as a cause of hospitalization.
Methods: We analyzed data from the National Hospitalization Discharge Survey for 1980 through 1994 using a previously developed approach to evaluate infectious diseases in data coded according to the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision.
Results: Between 1980 and 1994, the rate of hospitalizations in the United States declined approximately 33%; hospitalizations occurred at a rate of 133+/-5 per 1000 US population (35 million+/-1 million discharges) in 1994. The rate of hospitalization for infectious diseases declined less steeply--12% during this interval--resulting in an increased proportion of hospitalizations because of infectious diseases. In 1994, the rate of hospitalizations for infectious diseases was 15.4+/-0.7 per 1000 US population (4.0 million+/-0.2 million discharges). The fatality rate associated with hospitalizations for infectious diseases increased from 1.9%+/-0.1% to 4.0%+/-0.3%, attributable to increased hospitalizations of elderly persons and an increased fatality rate among those younger than 65 years. Among selected categories, hospitalizations for human immunodeficiency virus infections and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, prosthetic device infections, sepsis, and mycosis increased substantially, and hospitalizations for upper respiratory tract infections, pelvic inflammatory disease, and oral infections declined sharply. Hospitalizations for lower respiratory tract infections constituted 37% of all infectious disease hospitalizations in 1994.
Conclusions: Considering hospitalizations as a dimension of the burden of infectious diseases involves an array of factors: secular trends in hospitalization, changing case management practices, demographic changes, and trends in the variety of infectious diseases themselves. Increases in the proportions of hospitalizations because of infectious diseases during years when hospitalizations for all causes were decreasing reflect an increasing burden of infectious diseases in the United States between 1989 and the mid-1990s.