Design, participants and setting: Retrospective study of inhospital deaths of adults (patients aged ≥ 15 years) associated with an infection during a medical or renal admission to ASH between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2005.
Results: There were 513 deaths, of 351 Indigenous and 162 non-Indigenous patients. For Indigenous patients, 60% of deaths were infection-related, compared with 25% for non-Indigenous patients (P < 0.001). The admission-based infection-related MRR for Indigenous versus non-Indigenous adults was 2.2 (95% CI, 1.6–3.1) (15.3 v 6.8 deaths per 1000 admissions; P < 0.001). After adjusting for age and year of death, the population-based infection-related MRR was 11.3 (95% CI, 8.0–15.8) overall (351 v 35 deaths per 100 000 population; P < 0.001) and 31.5 (95% CI, 16.1–61.8) for patients aged < 60 years. The median age of patients who died with an infection was 49 (interquartile range [IQR], 38–67) years for Indigenous and 73 (IQR, 58–80) years for non-Indigenous patients (P < 0.001). For Indigenous patients, 56% of infection-related deaths were associated with bacterial sepsis, with half of these due to enteric organisms. Other deaths followed chronic hepatitis B infection, invasive fungal infections and complications of strongyloidiasis.
Conclusion: Indigenous patients at ASH are 11 times more likely than non-Indigenous patients to die with an infectious disease. This racial disparity reflects the ongoing socioeconomic disadvantage experienced by Indigenous Australians.
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