(HealthDay News)  There were an estimated 648,000 patients with 721,800 health care-associated infections in US acute care hospitals in 2011, according to research published in the March 27 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Shelley S. Magill, MD, PhD, from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues conducted a prevalence survey of 11,282 randomly selected inpatients at 183 participating hospitals in 10 geographically diverse states to determine the prevalence of health care-associated infections in acute care hospitals. Medical records and the 2010 Nationwide Inpatient Sample data were also utilized.

The researchers found that 452 patients had one or more health care-associated infections (4.0%). The most common types were pneumonia (21.8%), surgical-site infections (21.8%), and gastrointestinal infections (17.1%). The most commonly reported pathogen was Clostridium difficile, causing 12.1% of health care-associated infections. Just over a quarter of infections (25.6%) were device-associated infections (central-catheter-associated bloodstream infection, catheter-associated urinary tract infection, and ventilator-associated pneumonia), which have traditionally been the focus of infection control programs.

“As device- and procedure-associated infections decrease, consideration should be given to expanding surveillance and prevention activities to include other health care-associated infections,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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