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Infection and Antibiotic Use in a Community Hospital, 1971-1990

  • Thomas S. Huth (a1) and John P. Burke (a1)



To determine the prevalence of infections and antibiotic use at a community hospital in 1990 and to compare the results with those from previous surveys in 1971, 1979, and 1984.


Point prevalence survey.


Community teaching hospital.


All hospitalized patients, excluding those on the nursery, psychiatry, and short-stay wards.


Medical records were reviewed and a pertinent physical examination was performed on each patient.


Overall, 46 (20.1%) of 229 patients had infection in 1990. Community-acquired and hospital-acquired infections were present in 26 (11.4%) and 24 (10.5%) of the patients, respectively. The most common site of community-acquired infection was the deep abdomen in 8 (25.8%) of 32 sites, while hospital-acquired infection most frequently involved the lower respiratory tract in 8 (25.0%) of 32 sites. Antimicrobial agents were being administered to 88 (38.4%) of the patients. Cephalosporins (particularly newer, broad-spectrum agents) were the most frequently used antibiotics, comprising 53 (45.3%) of the 117 total antimicrobial prescriptions. seven (18.4%) of the 38 antibiotics used for surgical prophylaxis were given for more than 48 hours. Trend analysis revealed no significant changes in the proportions of patients with community-acquired, hospital-acquired, or total infection over the last 20 years (p=.18, p=.12, and p=.O7, respectively). While the overall use of antibiotics increased p<.ool), the administration of prophylactic perioperative antibiotics for greater than 48 hours decreased p=.009).


Despite major shifts in factors associated with an increased risk of infection, the overall prevalences of hospital-acquired and community-acquired infections remained remarkably constant during the last 20 years. Although total antibiotic use increased, the duration of surgical prophylaxis decreased and the pattern of use of therapeutic antibiotics also changed with increased use of broad-spectrum agents


Corresponding author

Division of Infectious Diseases, LDS Hospital, 8th Ave. and C St., Salt Lake City, UT 84143


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