Sixteen-Fold Increase In Drug-Resitant Bacteria in Elderly Hospital Patients

According to a recent study, multidrug-resistant (MDR) gram-negative bacteria are reported increasingly frequently among samples recovered from elderly patients. The clinical epidemiology of bloodstream infection (BSI) due to MDR gram-negative bacteria among elderly patients is unknown.

From 1999 to 2007, computerized medical records were reviewed for BSI due to MDR gram-negative bacteria within 48 hours of hospital admission in patients 65 years or older in a Boston, Massachusetts hospital.

MDR gram-negative bacteria were recovered from 61 (8%) of 724 elderly patients with BSI caused by gram-negative bacteria. Over the -year study period, the percentage of MDR gram-negative bacteria among bloodstream isolates increased from 2 (1%) of 199 to 34 (16%) of 216. Empiric therapy was ineffective for 38 (63%) of 60 patients with BSI caused by MDR gram-negative bacteria. The variables independently associated with BSI due to these bacteria were as follows: residency in a long-term care facility (odds ratio [OR], 4.9 [95% confidence interval {CI} 1.6–14.9]; ), presence of an invasive device (OR, 6.0 [95% CI, 1.5–23.5]; ), severe sepsis (OR, 7.9 [95% CI, 1.7–37.1]; ), and delayed initiation of effective therapy (OR, 12.8 [95% CI, 3.9–41.1]; ).

The 16-fold increase in BSI due to MDR gram-negative bacteria at hospital admission among elderly patients, especially among those who resided in long-term care facilities prior to admission, contributes further to the expanding body of evidence that these patients are the main reservoirs of MDR gram-negative bacteria. Given their contribution to the influx of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria in the hospital setting, infection control interventions that target this high-risk group need to be considered. For more, see the study.


Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.