Inpatient dermatology: profile of patients and characteristics of admissions to a tertiary dermatology inpatient unit in São Paulo, Brazil

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Dermatology is primarily an outpatient clinical and surgical specialty, but substantial numbers of patients are admitted to hospital for inpatient treatment in dermatology wards.


We performed a retrospective study of patients admitted to dermatology beds between September 1, 2002, and September 30, 2010. Patient data were analyzed for age, gender, ethnicity, length of stay (LoS), dermatologic disease, comorbidities, hospital-acquired infection (HAI), transfer to the intensive care unit (ICU), and mortality.


A total of 3308 patients admitted during this 8-year period were identified for analysis. The most frequent admissions were for eczema/dermatitis (17.5%) and cutaneous infections (15.9%). The mean LoS was 13.0 days. The mean ± standard deviation (SD) number of comorbidities per patient was 1.0 ± 1.2, among the most frequent of which were hypertension and diabetes mellitus. The rate of HAI was 6.2%; bloodstream infection was regarded as the most commonly acquired type and Staphylococcus aureus as the infectious agent most commonly found in culture. Of the patients admitted, 3.7% were transferred to the ICU and 2.5% died. In these latter two groups, the most common dermatologic diagnoses were immunobullous diseases, and the mean hospital LoS and rate of HAI were higher than in the total admissions cohort.


Higher value should be placed on dermatology inpatient services in order to expand the availability of dermatology beds, mainly in tertiary hospitals, in view of the potentially high severity of the dermatologic diseases found in many patients referred to this type of service.

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