Incidents of hospitalizations involving multidrug-resistant infections declined between 2012 and 2017 but remain a significant burden on the health of Americans, according to U health economist Richard Nelson and colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers report the rates of infections at 890 U.S. hospitals representing more than 41 million hospitalizations. Over the five-year period, the incidence of infections with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and three other multidrug-resistant bacteria declined in hospitalized patients, by as much as 40%. But incidence of infections caused by Enterobacteriaceae suggestive of extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL) production, rose by more than 50% over the same timeframe.
The rise in ESBL is likely due to community-acquired infections, the researchers write. Across all multidrug-resistant bacteria, they report, only 17% of the more than 622,000 total infections in their dataset began in hospitals. Although the declines in some infections are good news, multidrug-resistant bacteria are still significant threats to public health. “Infections due to multidrug-resistant bacteria can significantly increase the risk of death and are extremely expensive to treat,” said Nelson. “Efforts to prevent these infections could save patient lives and preserve scare healthcare resources.”