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Quality: Hospital Onset Infections

Last Updated 3/21/2013 2:02:31 PM

A hospital onset infection is usually one that first appears within three days after a patient is admitted to a hospital or other health care facility. Such infections are also called nosocomial infections.

About five to ten percent of patients admitted to hospitals in the United States develop one of these infections, which are usually related to a procedure or treatment used to treat the patient.

Hospital onset infections can be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites. These microorganisms may already be present in the patient's body or may come from the environment, contaminated hospital equipment, health care workers or other patients.

Hospital-Onset MRSA

What is Staphylococcus aureus (staph)?

Staphylococcus aureus, often referred to simply as "staph," are bacteria commonly carried on the skin or in the nose of healthy people. Approximately 25% to 30% of the population is colonized (bacteria are present, but are not causing an infection) in the nose with staph bacteria.

Sometimes, staph can cause an infection. Staph bacteria are one of the most common causes of skin infections in the United States. Most of these skin infection are minor (such as pimples or a boil) and can be treated without antibiotics. However, staph bacteria also can cause serious infections (such as surgical wound infections, bloodstream infections and pneumonia).

What is MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus)?

Some staph bacteria are resistant to antibiotics. MRSA is a type of staph that is resistant to antibiotics called beta-lactams. Beta-lactam antibiotics include methicillin and other more common antibiotics such as oxacillin, penicillin and amoxicillin. While 25% to 30% of the population is colonized with staph, approximately one percent is colonized with MRSA.

California hospitals have been required to publicly disclose their MRSA infection rates since 2009.

To learn more about MRSA from the Centers for Disease Control, click here.

Hospital-onset Clostridium difficile

Clostridium difficile (also called C. difficile or C. diff) are bacteria that can cause swelling and irritation in the large intestine, or colon. This inflammation, known as colitis, can cause diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps.

C. diff infections are not nationally reportable in the U.S.


Oct-Dec 2012

Our goal

MRSA infections per 10,000 patient days (lower is better)



Clostridium difficile infections per 10,000 patient days (lower is better)