Study objective: To evaluate the relationship between nosocomial infections and clinical outcomes following cardiac surgery, and to identify risk factors for the development of nosocomial infections in this patient population.
Design: Prospective cohort study.
Setting: Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis, a university-affiliated teaching hospital.
Patients: Six hundred five consecutive patients undergoing cardiac surgery.
Interventions: Prospective patient surveillance and data collection.
Main outcome measures: Occurrence of nosocomial infections, multiorgan dysfunction, hospital mortality, and risk factors for the acquisition of nosocomial infections.
Results: One hundred thirty-one (21.7%) patients acquired at least one nosocomial infection following cardiac surgery. Four independent risk factors for the development of a nosocomial infection were identified: the duration of mechanical ventilation, postoperative empiric antibiotic administration, the duration of urinary tract catheterization, and female gender. Thirty (5.0%) patients died during their hospitalization. The mortality rate of patients acquiring a nosocomial infection (11.5%) was significantly greater than the mortality rate of patients without a nosocomial infection (3.2%) (odds ratio [OR]=4.0; 95% confidence interval [CI]=2.7 to 5.8; p<0.001). Multiorgan dysfunction was found to be the most important independent determinant of hospital mortality (adjusted OR=23.8; 95% CI=13.5 to 42.1; p<0.001) along with the aortic cross-clamp time (adjusted OR=2.3; 95% CI=1.7 to 3.0; p=0.002) and severity of illness as measured by APACHE II (acute physiology and chronic health evaluation) (adjusted OR=1.1; 95% CI=1.1 to 1.2; p=0.019). Ventilator-associated pneumonia, clinical sepsis, female gender, the cardiopulmonary bypass time, and severity of illness were identified as independent risk factors for the development of multiorgan dysfunction. Among hospital survivors, patients acquiring a nosocomial infection had longer hospital lengths of stay compared to patients without a nosocomial infection (20.1±13.0 days vs 9.7±4.5 days; p<0.001).
Conclusions: Nosocomial infections, which are common following cardiac surgery, are associated with prolonged lengths of hospitalization, the development of multiorgan dysfunction, and increased hospital mortality. These data suggest potential interventions for the prevention of nosocomial infections following cardiac surgery that could substantially improve patient outcomes and decrease medical care costs.