Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Geographic variation in susceptibility to ventilator-associated pneumonia after traumatic injury

Zarzaur, Ben L. MD, MPH; Bell, Teresa M. BS; Croce, Martin A. MD; Fabian, Timothy C. MD

Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery: August 2013 - Volume 75 - Issue 2 - p 234–240
doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e3182924c18
Original Articles

BACKGROUND Emphasis on prevention of health care–associated infections including ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) has increased as hospitals are beginning to be held financially accountable for such infections. Health care–associated infections are often represented as being avoidable; however, the literature indicates that complete preventability may not be possible. The vast majority of research on risk factors for VAP concerns individual-level factors. No studies have investigated the role of the patient’s environment before admission. In this study, we aimed to investigate the potential role prehospital environment plays in VAP etiology.

METHODS In a retrospective cohort study, a sample of 5,031 trauma patients treated with mechanical ventilation between 1996 and 2010 was analyzed to determine the effect of neighborhood on the probability of developing VAP. We evaluated the effect of zip code using multilevel logistic regression analysis adjusting for individual-level factors associated with VAP.

RESULTS We identified three zip codes with rates of VAP that differed significantly from the mean. Logistic regression indicated that zip code, age, sex, race, injury severity, paralysis, head injury, and number of days on the ventilator were significantly associated with VAP. However, median zip code income was not.

CONCLUSION Spatial factors that are independent of health care quality may potentiate the likelihood of a patient developing VAP and possibly other types of health care–acquired infections. Unmodifiable environmental patient characteristics may predispose certain populations to developing infections in the setting of trauma.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE Epidemiologic study, level III.

From the Department of Surgery, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, Tennessee.

Submitted: December 11, 2012, Revised: March 13, 2013, Accepted: March 13, 2013, Published online: July 2, 2013.

This study was presented as a poster at the 71st Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma, September 12–15, 2012, in Kauai, Hawaii.

Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Address for reprints: Ben L. Zarzaur, MD, MPH, Department of Surgery, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, 910 Madison Bldg, 2nd Floor, Memphis, TN; email:

© 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.