, Volume 53, Issue 5, pp 914-923

First online:

Skin and soft tissue infections in hospitalised patients with diabetes: culture isolates and risk factors associated with mortality, length of stay and cost

  • B. A. LipskyAffiliated withVA Puget Sound Health Care System, General Internal Medicine (S-111-PCC), University of Washington Email author 
  • , Y. P. TabakAffiliated withClinical Research, CareFusion
  • , R. S. JohannesAffiliated withClinical Research, CareFusionDivision of Gastroenterology, Harvard Medical School
  • , L. VoAffiliated withOrtho-McNeil Janssen Scientific Affairs, LLC
  • , L. HydeAffiliated withClinical Research, CareFusion
  • , J. A. WeigeltAffiliated withDepartment of Surgery, Medical College of Wisconsin



Skin and soft tissue infections (SSTIs) cause substantial morbidity in persons with diabetes. There are few data on pathogens or risk factors associated with important outcomes in diabetic patients hospitalised with SSTIs.


Using a clinical research database from CareFusion, we identified 3,030 hospitalised diabetic patients with positive culture isolates and a diagnosis of SSTI in 97 US hospitals between 2003 and 2007. We classified the culture isolates and analysed their association with the anatomic location of infection, mortality, length of stay and hospital costs.


The only culture isolate with a significantly increased prevalence was methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA); prevalence for infection of the foot was increased from 11.6 to 21.9% (p < 0.0001) and for non-foot locations from 14.0% to 24.6% (p = 0.006). Patients with non-foot (vs foot) infections were more severely ill at presentation and had higher mortality rates (2.2% vs 1.0%, p < 0.05). Significant independent risk factors associated with higher mortality rates included having a polymicrobial culture with Pseudomonas aeruginosa (OR 3.1), a monomicrobial culture with other gram-negatives (OR 8.9), greater illness severity (OR 1.9) and being transferred from another hospital (OR 5.1). These factors and need for major surgery were also independently associated with longer length of stay and higher costs.


Among diabetic patients hospitalised with SSTI from 2003 to 2007, only MRSA increased in prevalence. Patients with non-foot (vs foot) infections were more severely ill. Independent risk factors for increased mortality rates, length of stay and costs included more severe illness, transfer from another hospital and wound cultures with Pseudomonas or other gram-negatives.


Diabetes Foot infections Hospitalised patients Length of stay Mortality MRSA Skin and soft tissue infection