Semin Respir Crit Care Med 2011; 32(2): 115-138
DOI: 10.1055/s-0031-1275525
© Thieme Medical Publishers

Epidemiology of Infections Acquired in Intensive Care Units

Joseph S. Doyle1 , Kirsty L. Buising1 , 2 , Karin A. Thursky1 , 3 , Leon J. Worth3 , 4 , Michael J. Richards1 , 4
  • 1Victorian Infectious Diseases Service, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Parkville, VIC Australia
  • 2St. Vincent's Hospital, Melbourne, VIC Australia
  • 3Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, East Melbourne, VIC Australia
  • 4VICNISS Coordinating Centre for Hospital Acquired Infection, North Melbourne, VIC Australia
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
19 April 2011 (online)


Infections acquired in the intensive care unit (ICU) are associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Using surveillance data collected in the United States and internationally, we describe contemporary rates, sites, and pathogens responsible for common ICU-acquired infections. Emerging pathogens are outlined, including a systematic review of published ICU infection outbreaks from 2005 to 2010. Compared with a similar review of outbreaks conducted in 2003, multiresistant gram-negative bacteria (eg, Acinetobacter and Pseudomonas species) were more commonly reported, whereas resistant Staphylococcus aureus was reported less frequently. Advances in ICU infection prevention, including central line bundles, chlorhexidine body wash, and hand hygiene interventions occurred during this period. We also describe how changes in the pattern of antimicrobial use can affect the prevalence of multiresistant pathogens.


Michael J RichardsM.B.B.S. M.D. 

Victorian Infectious Diseases Service, Royal Melbourne Hospital

Grattan St., Parkville VIC 3052, Australia