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Epidemiology and Outcomes of Hospitalizations with Complicated Skin and Skin-Structure Infections: Implications of Healthcare-Associated Infection Risk Factors

  • Marya D. Zilberberg (a1) (a2), Andrew F. Shorr (a3), Scott T. Micek (a4), Alex P. Hoban (a4), Victor Pham (a5), Joshua A. Doherty (a5), Andrew M. Ramsey (a2) and Marin H. Kollef (a4)...

Healthcare-associated infections are likely to be caused by drug-resistant and possibly mixed organisms and to be treated with inappropriate antibiotics. Because prompt appropriate treatment is associated with better outcomes, we studied the epidemiology of healthcare-associated complicated skin and skin-structure infections (cSSSIs).


Persons hospitalized with cSSSI and a positive culture result.


We conducted a single-center retrospective cohort study from April 2006 through December 2007. We differentiated healthcare-associated from community-acquired cSSSIs by at least 1 of the following risk factors: (1) recent hospitalization, (2) recent antibiotics, (3) hemodialysis, and (4) transfer from a nursing home. Inappropriate treatment was defined as no antimicrobial therapy with activity against the offending pathogen(s) within 24 hours after collection of a culture specimen. Mixed infections were those caused by both a gram-positive and a gram-negative organism.


Among 717 hospitalized patients with cSSSI, 527 (73.5%) had healthcare-associated cSSSI. Gram-negative organisms were more common (relative risk, 1.24 [95% confidence interval, 1.14–1.35) and inappropriate treatment trended toward being more common (odds ratio, 1.29 [95% confidence interval, 0.85–1.95]) in healthcare-associated cSSSI than in community-acquired cSSSI. Mixed cSSSIs occurred in 10.6% of patients with healthcare-associated cSSSI and 6.3% of those with community-acquired cSSSI (P = .082) and were more likely to be treated inappropriately than to be nonmixed infections (odds ratio, 2.42 [95% confidence interval, 1.43–4.10]). Both median length of hospital stay (6.2 vs 2.9 days; P < .001) and mortality rate (6.6% vs 1.1%; P = .003) were significantly higher for healthcare-associated cSSSI than community-acquired cSSSI.


Healthcare-associated cSSSIs are common and are likely to be caused by gram-negative organisms. Mixed infections carry a <2-fold greater risk of inappropriate treatment. Healthcare-associated cSSSIs are associated with increased mortality and prolonged length of hospital stay, compared with community-acquired cSSSIs.

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Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology
  • ISSN: 0899-823X
  • EISSN: 1559-6834
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