Burden of highly resistant microorganisms in a Dutch intensive care unit

H. Aardema*, J. P. Arends, A. M. G. A. de Smet, J. G. Zijlstra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The occurrence of highly resistant microorganisms (HRMOs) is a major threat to critical care patients, leading to worse outcomes, need for isolation measures, and demand for second-line or rescue antibiotics. The aim of this study was to quantify the burden of HRMOs in an intensive care unit (ICU) for adult patients in a university hospital in the Netherlands. We evaluated local distribution of different HRMO categories and proportion of ICU-imported versus ICU-acquired HRMOs. Outcome of HRMO-positive patients versus controls was compared.

Methods: In this prospective single-centre study, culture results of all ICU patients during a four-month period were recorded, as well as APACHE scores, ICU mortality and length of stay (LOS) in the ICU.

Results: 58 of 962 (6.0%) patients were HRMO positive during ICU stay. The majority (60%) of those patients were HRMO positive on ICU admission. HRMO-positive patients had significantly higher APACHE scores, longer LOS and higher mortality compared with controls.

Conclusions: Our study suggests that a large part of antibiotic resistance in the ICU is imported. This underscores the importance of a robust surveillance and infection control program throughout the hospital, and implies that better recognition of those at risk for HRMO carriage before ICU admission may be worthwhile. Only a small minority of patients with HRMO at admission did not have any known risk factors for HRMO.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-174
Number of pages6
JournalThe Netherlands Journal of Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May-2015


  • Critical care
  • highly resistant microorganisms
  • HRMO
  • length of stay
  • surveillance
  • isolation

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