06 June 2013

Men face higher risk of infections

An extensive study has found that hospitalised men had 60% greater odds of bloodstream and surgical infections related to receiving healthcare than women.


Women are less likely to develop infections related to receiving health care than men, according to a large new study.

After examining thousands of cases involving hospitalised patients, researchers found that women were at much lower risk for bloodstream infection and surgical-site infection than men. The study authors suggested that their findings could help health care providers reduce men's risk of these infections.

"By understanding the factors that put patients at risk for infections, clinicians may be able to design targeted prevention and surveillance strategies to improve infection rates and outcomes," lead study author Bevin Cohen, program director at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research to Prevent Infections at Columbia University School of Nursing, said.

What the study showed

The study, recently published online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, revealed that the odds of developing a community-associated bloodstream infection were 30% higher among men. Meanwhile, the researchers found a 60% higher risk among men for health care-associated bloodstream infections as well as for surgical-site infections.

Biological differences between men and women's skin may play a role in men's increased risk for infection. Previous studies have shown there are more bacteria present at the insertion site of a central venous catheter on men than women.

These gender differences were less apparent in children younger than 12 and people older than 70, the study found.

"In addition to using enhanced infection risk profiles to improve infection rates, it may be sensible to conduct specialised preoperative skin decontamination procedures and postoperative wound care for men to further reduce the risk of infection," Cohen concluded.

More information

The US Department of Health and Human Services has more about infections associated with health care.

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