Dr. Daniel McQuillen, a member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and a physician at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center who was the study author, examined a sample of Medicare patients hospitalized from Jan. 1, 2008-Dec. 31, 2009 with at least one of 11 serious but commonly treated infections: bacteremia, C. diff., central line associated bloodstream infections, bacterial endocarditis, human immunodeficiency virus/opportunistic infections, meningitis, prosthetic joint infections, septic shock and vascular device infections.
Matching patient characteristics, researchers compared the outcomes of 61,680 cases in which a hospitalized patient saw an infectious diseases specialist to 65,192 cases that did not involve a specialist.
The study, published online ahead of the Dec. 15 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases, found patients treated by infectious diseases specialists were 9 percent less likely to die in the hospital and 12 percent less likely to die after discharge. When an infectious disease physician is consulted, patients experience an average 3.7 percent fewer days in an intensive care unit,
The study also found that consultation with an infectious disease specialist reduced the likelihood patients will be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days.