Hospital-acquired infections cost $10 billion a year - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Hospital-acquired infections cost $10 billion a year

Updated: Sep 3, 2013 03:07 PM
© iStockphoto.com / Tomasz Kozlowski © iStockphoto.com / Tomasz Kozlowski

By Brenda Goodman
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Sept. 3 (HealthDay News) -- The five most common infections that patients get after they've been admitted to the hospital cost the U.S. health care system almost $10 billion a year, a new study shows.

One out of every 20 patients who are admitted to a hospital will fall victim to an infection they pick up while there, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These infections can be serious and even life-threatening, and recent studies have estimated that as many as half of them may be preventable.

They are also expensive to treat. In 2006, in a bid to get hospitals to do more to prevent so-called health care-associated infections, Medicare stopped paying for patient care associated with certain serious health care-associated infections.

The new study from Harvard researchers, which was published online Sept. 2 in JAMA Internal Medicine, suggests that by focusing prevention efforts on surgical site infections, infections associated with the use of devices such as central lines, catheters and ventilators, and by guarding against infections caused by Clostridium difficile, hospitals could save substantial amounts of money.

"This is real money, I mean real money," said Dr. Trish Perl, a professor of medicine and pathology at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in Baltimore.

Perl recently completed a study of surgical site infections at four hospitals in the Johns Hopkins Health System. Her study concluded that if the hospitals could eliminate surgical site infections tied to the procedures they studied, they would see an increase in revenue of more than $2 million a year. She wasn't involved in the current research.

"Cost data like this is one of the tools we've got to get out there," Perl said.

To compile the new numbers, researchers conducted a meta-analysis, or a study of studies, to estimate the costs associated with each of the different kinds of infections. They used a large, national database maintained by the CDC to estimate the number of health care-associated infections. And they built mathematical models to incorporate variations in patient outcomes and to see how those variations impacted costs.

The study was funded by a donation promoting research on patient safety.

Central line-associated bloodstream infections averaged about $45,000 per case. Pneumonia infections that strike patients who are put on ventilators to help them breathe cost about $40,000 per case. The most common infections, surgical site infections, which happen in about one out of every 50 operations, cost around $21,000 each to treat. There are about four C. difficile infections for every 1,000 patients who spend a day in the hospital, making them the second most common kind of infection, and those cost about $11,000 each to treat. Urinary tract infections associated with the use of catheters cost about $900 each.

The researchers say their numbers probably underestimate the true cost of treating health care-associated infections.

"We're not including every sort of infection, but these five would account for the majority of infections every way you look at it," said Dr. Eyal Zimlichman, a research associate at the Center for Patient Safety at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. "We're only looking at adults, we didn't take pediatric infections into account," he noted. They also limited their investigation to infections picked up in hospitals. They didn't factor in infections acquired in other kinds of health care settings such as nursing homes and dialysis clinics.

The narrow focus of the study, combined with progress made in reducing some kinds of infections, may help to explain why previous estimates of infection costs were higher, somewhere between $20 billion and $40 billion a year, the study authors pointed out.

There were also some surprises in the numbers.

Though many hospitals have substantially increased their efforts to prevent catheter-associated urinary tract infections, the new study found that while these infections are common, they account for less than 1 percent of all costs associated with health care-acquired infections.

"From a cost perspective, at least, one might suggest this isn't the first choice you want to put your emphasis on," Zimlichman said.

More information

For more on health care-associated infections, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Copyright © 2013 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

  • Medical News HeadlinesMedical News HeadlinesMore>>

  • Migraine Relief: Stopping Pain & Relieving Pressure

    Migraine Relief: Stopping Pain & Relieving Pressure

    Friday, April 18 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-18 21:15:06 GMT
    Meredith Messerli is thankful she can study without pain. The college freshman spent two years of her life battling severe migraines.more>>
    Meredith Messerli is thankful she can study without pain. The college freshman spent two years of her life battling severe migraines.more>>
  • Hope For Lanie: Curing SMA

    Hope For Lanie: Curing SMA

    Thursday, April 17 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-17 21:15:09 GMT
    SMA attacks the body's motor neurons and causes paralysis. There is no cure, but for the first time doctors are studying an experimental therapy that targets more than just symptoms.more>>
    SMA attacks the body's motor neurons and causes paralysis. There is no cure for SMA but for the first time doctors are studying an experimental therapy that targets more than just symptoms, it targets mutated SMN genes, which are responsible for SMA.more>>
  • Washing Lungs & Breathing Better

    Washing Lungs & Breathing Better

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-16 21:15:09 GMT
    Imagine not being able to breathe without struggling: every breath you take is work; every breath you take could be your last. That was the case for one man who became dependent on an oxygen tank to stay alive.more>>
    Imagine not being able to breathe without struggling: every breath you take is work; every breath you take could be your last. That was the case for one man who became dependent on an oxygen tank to stay alive.more>>
  • Ocular Melanoma: Saving Lives, Saving Eyes

    Ocular Melanoma: Saving Lives, Saving Eyes

    Friday, April 11 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-11 21:15:07 GMT
    Ocular melanoma, also called uveal melanoma, is a rare type of melanoma that targets the eye. It can be a deadly if it isn't spotted early enough. Now, there's a way to treat patients that's saving lives and saving eyes.more>>
    Ocular melanoma, also called uveal melanoma, is a type of melanoma that targets the eye. It affects about 2,000 people a year in the United States. Although rare – it can be a deadly if it isn't spotted early enough. Now, there's a way to treat patients that's saving lives and saving eyes.more>>
  • Memory Palace: Coping With Chemo Brain

    Memory Palace: Coping With Chemo Brain

    Thursday, April 10 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-10 21:15:09 GMT
    More than 13 million Americans are living with some form of cancer. Harsh treatments like chemo and radiation save lives, but they will also change lives. Now, many cancer survivors are learning how to cope with chemo brain.more>>
    More than 13 million Americans are living with some form of cancer. Harsh treatments like chemo and radiation save lives, but they will also change lives. Now, many cancer survivors are learning how to cope with chemo brain.more>>
  • Pedaling For A Cure

    Pedaling For A Cure

    Wednesday, April 9 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-09 21:15:09 GMT
    Five years ago, Leslie Trudeau's world came crashing down. At just 22 years old, her son Taylor lost his battle with leukemia. That's why Trudeau is pedaling for a cure.more>>
    Five years ago, Leslie Trudeau's world came crashing down. At just 22 years old, her son Taylor lost his battle with leukemia. That's why Trudeau is pedaling for a cure.more>>
  • Bringing Hearts Back To Life: New Improved Defibrillator

    Bringing Hearts Back To Life: New Improved Defibrillator

    Tuesday, April 8 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-08 21:15:13 GMT
    CPR and a portable defibrillator helped keep Eric Robinson alive after he went into cardiac arrest. And now a newly FDA approved Biotronik implantable cardiac defibrillator, or ICD, constantly monitors his heart.more>>
    A year ago, while jamming with his son's band, Eric Robinson went into cardiac arrest. CPR and a portable defibrillator helped keep Robinson alive. And now a newly FDA approved Biotronik implantable cardiac defibrillator, or ICD, constantly monitors his heart.more>>
  • Helping High Risk Hearts

    Helping High Risk Hearts

    Monday, April 7 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-07 21:15:09 GMT
    Ironing is not exactly Barbara Roy's favorite activity, but it's something she's glad she can do again. Her doctor diagnosed her with severe aortic stenosis.more>>
    Ironing is not exactly Barbara Roy's favorite activity, but it's something she's glad she can do again. Her doctor diagnosed her with severe aortic stenosis.more>>
  • Hernias In Newborns: Lincoln's Story

    Hernias In Newborns: Lincoln's Story

    Friday, April 4 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-04 21:15:07 GMT
    Congenital diaphragmatic hernias occur in about one in every 2,000 births. They can be deadly, but now doctors are using a more aggressive treatment approach.more>>
    Congenital diaphragmatic hernias occur in about one in every 2,000 births. They can be deadly, but now doctors are using a more aggressive treatment approach.more>>
  • Predicting Bad Hearts

    Predicting Bad Hearts

    Thursday, April 3 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-04-03 21:15:09 GMT
    Every year, more than 700,000 Americans have a heart attack. Now, researchers at Baylor Research Institute at Dallas have uncovered a biomarker that may help them spot the disease sooner.more>>
    Every year, more than 700,000 Americans have a heart attack. And 600,000 die of heart disease. Now, researchers at Baylor Research Institute at Dallas have uncovered a biomarker that may help them spot the disease sooner; and they did it by pure accident.more>>
*DISCLAIMER*: The information contained in or provided through this site section is intended for general consumer understanding and education only and is not intended to be and is not a substitute for professional advice. Use of this site section and any information contained on or provided through this site section is at your own risk and any information contained on or provided through this site section is provided on an "as is" basis without any representations or warranties.
Powered by WorldNow
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 NewsChannel 5 (WTVF-TV) and WorldNow. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.