The prevalence of health care-associated infection in older people in acute care hospitals

Shona Cairns, Jacqui Reilly, Sally Stewart, Debbie Tolson, Jon Godwin, Paul Knight

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: To determine the prevalence of health care-associated infection (HAI) in older people in acute care hospitals, detailing the specific types of HAI and specialties in which these are most prevalent.

DESIGN: Secondary analysis of the Scottish National Healthcare Associated Infection Prevalence Survey data set.

PATIENTS AND SETTING: All inpatients in acute care (n = 11,090) in all acute care hospitals in Scotland (n = 45).

RESULTS: The study found a linear relationship between prevalence of HAI and increasing age (P<.0001) in hospital inpatients in Scotland. Urinary tract infections and gastrointestinal infections represented the largest burden of HAI in the 75-84- and over-85-year age groups, and surgical-site infections represented the largest burden in inpatients under 75 years of age. The prevalence of urinary catheterization was higher in each of the over-65 age groups (P<.0001). Importantly, this study reveals that a high prevalence of HAI in inpatients over the age of 65 years is found across a range of specialties within acute hospital care. An increased prevalence of HAI was observed in medical, orthopedic, and surgical specialties.

CONCLUSIONS: HAI is an important outcome indicator of acute inpatient hospital care, and our analysis demonstrates that HAI prevalence increases linearly with increasing age (P<.0001). Focusing interventions on preventing urinary tract infection and gastrointestinal infections would have the biggest public health benefit. To ensure patient safety, the importance of age as a risk factor for HAI cannot be overemphasized to those working in all areas of acute care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)763-7
Number of pages5
JournalInfection Control & Hospital Epidemiology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011


  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Catheter-Related Infections
  • Cross Infection
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Scotland
  • Urinary Tract Infections


Dive into the research topics of 'The prevalence of health care-associated infection in older people in acute care hospitals'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this