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Patients with Alcohol Use Disorders at Greater Risk of Dying From Hospital Infections

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Patients with alcohol use disorders who develop an infection while in the hospital are more likely to die from the infection, than patients without an alcohol disorder, a new study finds. These patients are also more likely to stay longer in the hospital and have higher costs.

Health care-associated infections, which patients pick up in the hospital or other health care setting, affect about 1.7 million Americans each year, according to the study, as reported in HealthDay.

Patients with alcohol use disorders who developed health care-associated infections were 71 percent more likely to die from the infections, compared with patients without alcohol use disorders, the researchers reported in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. They also had a two-day longer hospital stay and about $7,500 more in hospital costs.

In a journal press release, the study authors said it is important for patients to discuss their alcohol consumption patterns with their doctor. Study author Marjolein de Wit, Associate Professor of Medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University, said this discussion is needed both when a hospital admission is scheduled, as well as at the time of an emergency hospital admission. She noted that when a patient has elective surgery, abstaining from drinking one month before the operation may decrease the risk of health care-associated infections.

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