Inter-Hospital Transfer Is an Independent Risk Factor for Hospital-Associated Infection

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Surgical infections


Background: Regionalization of surgical care shifts higher acuity patients to larger centers. Hospital-associated infections (HAIs) are important quality measures with financial implications. In our ongoing efforts to eliminate HAIs, we examined the potential role for inter-hospital transfer in our cases of HAI across a multihospital system.

Hypothesis: Surgical patients transferred to a regional multihospital system have a higher risk of National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN)-labeled HAIs. Patients and Methods: The analysis cohort of adult surgical inpatients was filtered from a five-hospital health system administration registry containing encounters from 2014 to 2021. The dataset contained demographics, health characteristics, and acuity variables, along with the NHSN defined HAIs of central line-associated blood stream infection (CLABSI), catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI), and Clostridioides difficile infection (CDI). Univariable and multivariable statistics were performed.

Results: The surgical cohort identified 92,832 patients of whom 3,232 (3.5%) were transfers. The overall HAI rate was 0.6% (528): 86 (0.09%) CLABSI, 133 (0.14%) CAUTI, and 325 (0.35%) CDI. Across the three HAIs, the rate was higher in transfer patients compared with non-transfer patients (CLABSI: n = 18 (1.3%); odds ratio [OR], 4.79; CAUTI: n = 25 (1.8%); OR, 4.20; CDI: n = 37 (1.1%); OR, 3.59); p < 0.001 for all. Multivariable analysis found transfer patients had an increased rate of HAIs (OR, 1.56; p < 0.001).

Conclusions: There is an increased risk-adjusted rate of HAIs in transferred surgical patients as reflected in the NHSN metrics. This phenomenon places a burden on regional centers that accept high-risk surgical transfers, in part because of the downstream effects of healthcare reimbursement programs.

Medical Subject Headings

Adult; Humans; Catheter-Related Infections; Cross Infection; Hospitals; Clostridium Infections; Risk Factors; Urinary Tract Infections; Pneumonia, Ventilator-Associated

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ePub ahead of print





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