JAMA: Hospital infections cost the system nearly $10B a year

CLABSI are the costliest HAIs, researchers found

Topics: Access to Care, Quality, Performance Improvement, Infection Control, Infectious Diseases, Reimbursement, Finance

September 4, 2013

Health care-associated infections (HAIs) cost the U.S. health care system $9.8 billion annually, according to a study released this week by JAMA Internal Medicine.

The study used data from CDC and research studies conducted between 1998 and April 2013, adjusting for inflation. The report found that:

  • The costliest infections. Central-line associated bloodstream infections, which made up nearly 19% of all HAIs, were the most costly, at $45,814 per case. The cost of such infections increased by 27%, to $58,614, when drug-resistant bacteria were involved.
  • The most-common infections. The report also found that surgical-site infections were the most common, accounting for nearly one-third of all HAIs.  Surgical site infections cost $20,785 per case, according to the report.

The report also examined several other costly HAIs, finding that:

  • Ventilator-associated pneumonia cost $40,144 per case;
  • Clostridium difficile infections cost $11,285 per case; and
  • Catheter-associated urinary-tract infections cost $896 per case.

The researchers determined that patients with HAIs were likely to spend 15.7 additional days in the hospital, compared with those who did not contract an HAI.

  • How one hospital won a Quality Compass award for reducing infections: This 2013 case study explains how Memorial Hospital of South Bend reduced CLABSIs by 77% from 2010 to 2011.

The study's authors noted ways to cut costs and decrease the number of HAIs, including "increasing federal support to evaluate effectiveness of… prevention approaches, encouraging innovation to expand the list of effective interventions or enhancing surveillance programs to include post-discharge tracking" of HAIs.

The report also said financial incentives for preventing HAIs might prove effective (CBS News, 9/2; Evans, Modern Physician, 9/2 [subscription required]).

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