More than one-third of patients with bloodstream infections are not being properly treated at community hospitals, according to a new study published yesterday in the journal PLoS One. Researchers said that an increase in antibiotic resistant bacteria has made these infections more difficult to treat, and suggest use of electronic health records to help reduce inappropriate antibiotic therapy. According to MSN Healthy Living, bloodstream infections are a leading cause of illness and death in the United States.
Dr. Deverick Anderson, study lead author and associate professor of medicine at Duke University, said “Our study provides a much-needed update on what we’re seeing in community hospitals, and, ultimately, we’re finding similar types of infections in these hospitals as in tertiary care centers,” Anderson also said in a Duke news release, that “It’s a challenge to identify bloodstream infections and treat them quickly and appropriately, but this study shows that there is room for improvement in both kinds of hospital settings,”
The study involved nearly 1,500 patients with bloodstream infections. These patients were treated in community hospitals in North Carolina and Virginia between 2003 and 2006. Study authors found that 38 percent of them were being given inappropriate antibiotic therapy. Patients were more at risk if they were in a hospital or nursing home in the past year, if they have impaired function, or if there were multidrug-resistant bacteria.
Utilizing electronic health records may help with this problem, Anderson said. He suggested that “Developing an intervention where electronic records automatically alert clinicians to these risk factors when they’re choosing antibiotics could help reduce the problem…This is just a place to start, but it’s an example of an area where we could improve how we treat patients with bloodstream infections.”