January 1997

Enterococcal Bacteremia in the Surgical Intensive Care UnitDoes Vancomycin Resistance Affect Mortality?

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Surgery, Division of Trauma, Louisiana State University Medical Center, Shreveport (Dr Mainous), and the Departments of Surgery (Dr Lipsett) and Infection Control (Ms O'Brien), The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, Md. A complete list of the Johns Hopkins SICU Study Group appears on page 80.

Arch Surg. 1997;132(1):76-81. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1997.01430250078017

Objective:  To determine the incidence and mortality rate associated with nosocomial bacteremia caused by vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus in a surgical intensive care unit.

Design:  A retrospective study.

Setting:  The surgical intensive care unit of a large university hospital tertiary referral center.

Patients:  All patients in the surgical intensive care unit with a documented nosocomial bacteremia between January 1, 1992, and December 31, 1994.

Interventions:  None.

Main Outcome Measure:  Mortality rate.

Results:  Of the 134 nosocomial bacteremic episodes, 30.6% involved enterococci; 24.4% of the enterococci were resistant to vancomycin. Patients with vancomycin-resistant enterococcal bacteremia had a significantly longer hospital stay (mean±SD, 28±18 vs 12±10 days; P=.005) and were more likely to have been treated with vancomycin (70% vs 10.3%; P=.001) than patients with vancomycin-sensitive enterococcal bacteremia. The mortality (41.0%) associated with enterococcal bacteremia was similar to the overall bacteremic mortality (41.7%). There was no difference in episode-specific mortality associated with vancomycin-resistant enterococci (40%) vs vancomycin-sensitive enterococci (38.7%). Of the 4 deaths associated with vancomycin-resistant enterococcal bacteremia, only 2 occurred within 14 days of the bacteremia, as did 8 of 12 deaths associated with vancomycin-sensitive enterococcal bacteremia (P=.64).

Conclusions:  Enterococci were the most commonly isolated nosocomial blood-borne pathogens in the surgical intensive care unit. Nearly 25% of the enterococcal bacteremic episodes were resistant to vancomycin. Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus is associated with a prolonged hospital stay and with vancomycin use. Nevertheless, vancomycin resistance itself does not increase the mortality rate associated with enterococcal bacteremia.Arch Surg. 1997;132:76-81