Patient referrals cause differences in hospital infection rates

Mar 18, 2010

Patient referrals between hospitals influence the rates of hospital-acquired infections such as MRSA, according to a study by researchers based in the Netherlands. The findings, published March 19 in the open-access journal PLoS Computational Biology, explain that referred patients, who have the potential to carry a hospital-acquired infection with them, are more likely to be admitted to University Medical Centers than to teaching or general hospitals.

The prevalence of hospital-acquired infection is widely believed to reflect the quality of and health care in individual hospitals, and is therefore often used as a benchmark for hospital quality. However, this assumes that the rate at which patients introduce infections is equal for all hospitals. The authors, from the National Institute for and the Environment, the University Medical Center Groningen, and the University Medical Center Utrecht, show that this assumption is unlikely to be correct.

The authors used patient admissions data, gathered from the National Medical Registry, to reconstruct the entire hospital network of the Netherlands. The University Medical Centers were shown to be central to this network as they admit more patients who have recently stayed in other hospitals. Therefore, the authors conclude, the University Medical Centers are more likely to admit patients that still carry pathogens acquired during previous visits, thus raising their rates of hospital-acquired infections.

The authors show that this difference in connectedness within the network results in differences in prevalence of hospital-acquired infections by using an individual-based model. As a consequence the authors suggest that interventions should therefore focus on hospitals that are central in the network of patient referrals.

The authors note that their methods do not account for transmission outside the hospitals. If community transmission of hospital-acquired infections becomes a significant factor, the observed effect will be diluted.

Explore further: Stem cells faulty in Duchenne muscular dystrophy

More information: Donker T, Wallinga J, Grundmann H (2010) Patient Referral Patterns and the Spread of Hospital-Acquired Infections through National Health Care Networks. PLoS Comput Biol 6(3): e1000715. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000715

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

C. difficile and antibiotics not necessarily linked

Oct 07, 2008

The latest study by Dr. Sandra Dial from the Research Institute of the MUHC, McGill University, and Attending Staff in the Intensive Care Unit at the Jewish General Hospital, questions the assumption held by a vast majority ...

Cellphones may spread superbugs in hospitals: study

Mar 06, 2009

Cell phones belonging to hospital staff were found to be tainted with bacteria -- including the drug-resistant MRSA superbug -- and may be a source of hospital-acquired infections, according to study released Friday.

Catheter chaos: Hospitals lag in preventing common infection

Jan 03, 2008

[B]No consistent strategy for dealing with urinary catheters, or ensuring their removal, means patients and families need to speak up[/B] One in four Americans in the hospital right now has a urinary catheter. One percent of ...

Recommended for you

Stem cells faulty in Duchenne muscular dystrophy

17 hours ago

Like human patients, mice with a form of Duchenne muscular dystrophy undergo progressive muscle degeneration and accumulate connective tissue as they age. Now, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have ...

Here's how the prion protein protects us

22 hours ago

The cellular prion protein (PrPC) has the ability to protect the brain's neurons. Although scientists have known about this protective physiological function for some time, they were lacking detailed knowledge ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.