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Hospitalizations for VAP rose prior to pandemic



The number of adults hospitalized with ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) in the United States increased by 50% from 2013 to 2019, based on data from the National Inpatient Sample.

Health care–associated infections are a significant burden, and “ventilator associated-pneumonia is a contributor to that,” said Namratha S. Meda, MBBS, in a presentation at the annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians.

VAP can affect length of stay and other costs, but factors related to VAP hospitalization have not been well studied, said Dr. Meda, of Medstar Health/Georgetown University Hospital, Washington.

To examine trends in hospitalization for VAP, Dr. Meda and colleagues reviewed data from the National Inpatient Sample from January 2013 to December 2019. The study population included adult patients with VAP as a primary or secondary diagnosis based on ICD-9 or ICD-10 codes.

Overall, the trend in hospitalizations showed a consistent increase, said Dr. Meda.

The researchers identified 128,025 adult hospitalizations with VAP during the study period, with an increase from 50 VAP cases per 100,000 hospitalizations in 2013 to 75 cases per 100,000 hospitalizations in 2019.

A total of 42,120 hospitalizations were associated with tracheostomy, ventilator dependence, or both. Hospitalizations in these categories increased by 80% during the study period, from 15 cases per 100,000 hospitalizations in 2013 to 27 cases per 100,000 hospitalizations in 2019.

The median cost for each hospitalization was $83,311, and showed a 2.9% increase from 2013 to 2019. The estimated annual cost of VAP hospitalizations was approximately $2.8 billion in 2019, Dr. Meda emphasized. However, all-cause hospital mortality remained unchanged over the study period, at approximately 20%.

The mean age of the hospitalized VAP patients was 58 years across all VAP-related hospitalizations, and 36.5% were women. More than half (58%) were White, 21% were Black, and 12% were Hispanic.

The researchers noted some sex and racial disparities; the median age was lower for Black and Hispanic patients, compared with White patients, but all-cause mortality was lower. Men had a significantly longer median length of stay, compared with women (21 days vs. 19 days), and higher median costs ($87,981 vs. $74,889) with a P <.001 for both, but the all-cause in-hospital mortality was not significantly different between sexes.

The steady increase in hospitalization for VAP without a significant change in all-cause mortality, might be driven by hospitals with higher levels of tracheostomy and ventilator dependence, but more research is needed, Dr. Meda noted.

The study was limited by the observational design, which allowed the researchers to report an association, but not causality, said Dr. Meda. However, the results reflect the ongoing financial burden of VAP on the health care system, although “it would be interesting to see how the trend might change if we just looked at the clinical definition versus billing data,” she noted.

The study did not include data since the advent of COVID-19, but COVID is likely to drive the trend of increasing VAP hospitalization higher, Dr. Meda added.

The study received no outside funding. The researchers had no financial conflicts to disclose.

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