The nationwide nosocomial infection rate: A new need for vital statistics

Robert W. Haley, David H. Culver, John W. White, W. Meade Morgan, T. Grace Emori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

609 Scopus citations


From a random sample of patients and hospitals and extrapolation ratios derived from the best available sources of data, the authors estimate that the nationwide nosocomial infection rate among the 6,449 acute-care US hospitals in 1975ndash;1976 was 5.7 nosocomial infections per 100 admissions and that over 2 million nosocomial infections occurred in a 12-month period in these hospitals. Nosocomial urinary tract infections constituted 42% of the infections, surgical wound infections 24%, nosocomial pneumonia 10%, nosocomial bacteremia 5%, and nosocomial infections at all other sites 19%. If adjustments are made for the accuracy of the diagnostic method, the increasing nationwide secular trend, and the number of nosocomial infections in nursing homes, however, as many as 4 million nosocomial infections per year may now be occurring. This greatly exceeds previous estimates and calls for timely and accurate vital statistics on the problem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-167
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1985


  • Cross infection
  • Health policy
  • Health services research
  • Health surveys
  • Hospitals
  • Sampling studies
  • Vital statistics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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