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Risk of death from hospital acquired infection in the UK (2006)

Clinical bottom line

The risk of dying from a hospital acquired infection in England and Wales in 2006 was 1 in 11,000 overall, rising from 1 in 250,000 in under 45s to 1 in 300 in over 85s.


Data sources

What the sources tell us

In England and Wales in 2006:

  1. The total population was 53,729,000
  2. Of these, about 1,075,000 (2%) were aged 85 and over
  3. MRSA caused or was associated with 1,652 deaths, which occurred predominantly in older people and women.
    a. The overall mortality rate was 26 per million.
    b. The mortality rate in over-85s was 916 per million for men and 417 for women.
    c. For those aged under 45 the mortality rate was 3 per million.
  4. C difficile caused or was associated with 6480 deaths, which occurred predominantly in older people.
    a. The overall death rate was 65 per million.
    b. The mortality rate in over-85s was 2,795 per million for men and 2,785 for women.
    c. For those aged under 45 the mortality rate was 1 per million.

Give us the odds

On average, across the whole population of England and Wales, there is a risk of 91 per million of dying of MRSA or C difficile in any one year. The odds are 1 in 11,000.

For those aged under 45 years, the average risk is 4 in a million, or 1 in 250,000.

For those aged 85 years or older, the risk is about 3,500 in a million, or 1 in 300.

Figure 1: Risk of death with hospital acquired infection in UK - effect of age

Risk Communication Tool (c) John Paling 2000 (www.riskcomm.com)

Comment

Of course, this is predicated on going into hospital as a patient in the first place. The reason that the risk is so much higher in older people is that older people are much, much more likely to be in hospital, and be there for longer.

Some good background to hospital acquired infection, before the recent huge increases in MRSA and C difficile is in Bandolier 73.