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Dramatic Increase in Antibiotic-Resistant Infections in Hospitalized Patients

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AHRQ News and Numbers

Release date: July 25, 2007

Hospital stays for a type of antibiotic-resistant infection have more than tripled since 2000, and have increased nearly 10-fold since 1995, according to the latest News and Numbers summary from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

AHRQ found that the number of hospital stays for patients infected with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) climbed from 38,100 in 1995 to 128,500 in 2000, and then to 368,800 in 2005, the latest year for which data are available.

MRSA, which is resistant to commonly used antibiotics such as amoxicillin and penicillin, occurs among hospitalized patients who undergo surgery or who have suppressed immunity due to diseases such as leukemia and HIV. However, there has been an increase in cases of MRSA infection in the community that has sent otherwise healthy patients to the hospital. The bacteria can be transmitted from person to person and can be potentially life threatening.

AHRQ data—which does not distinguish between cases acquired in the hospital or in the community—shows:

  • Elderly persons and infants are the most susceptible to the antibiotic-resistant infection. Those age 65 and older are 3 times more likely than other patients to be hospitalized for MRSA.
  • Infants less than 1 year of age are 6 times more likely to catch the infection than are patients ages 1 to 17 years, and twice as likely as patients ages 18 to 44 years.
  • This infection occurs most commonly in patients with skin infections (19 percent of all MRSA cases), complications from medical care (16 percent), pneumonia (9 percent), and septicemia (7 percent).

This AHRQ News & Numbers summary is based on data in Infections with Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) in U.S. Hospitals, 1993-2005, Statistical Brief No. 35 (PDF Help). The report uses statistics from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of hospital inpatient stays that is nationally representative of inpatient stays in all short-term, non-Federal hospitals. The data are drawn from hospitals that comprise 90 percent of all discharges in the United States and include all patients, regardless of insurance type, as well as the uninsured.

For more information, or to speak with an AHRQ data expert, contact Bob Isquith at or call (301) 427-1539.

Current as of July 2007


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