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Cost of Hospital Infections

Cost of Hospital Infections

According to a new study reported in JAMA Internal Medicine, infections that patients acquire during hospital stays end up costing the U.S. health care system $10 billion a year. Even though those numbers are far lower than those found in previous studies, nearly everyone agrees that a lot more has to be done. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics show that nearly one in every 20 hospital patients contracts an infection during their stay.

The researchers reviewed 26 studies to determine the cost of treating the five infections that are the most common, preventable and infections contracted by patients during hospital stays. In all, they found that nearly 441,000 such infections occur among hospitalized adults in the U.S. every year, for a total cost of $9.8 billion, Zimlichman and his colleagues

Among the most common infections are blood borne infections from central lines, which are used to deliver medication, fluids, nutrients or blood products. These were also the most expensive infections, with treatment in each case averaging just under $46,000. Pneumonia and lung infections contracted from ventilators or respirators were the second most expensive, at $40,144 per case. Post-surgery infections occurring at the site of the operation cost nearly $21,000 each to treat on average, while Clostridium difficile infection, a bacterium that results in serious cases of diarrhea and tends to spread within hospital units, cost an average of $11,285 per case for treatment. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) associated with catheters were the least costly, at $896 per case.

Two-thirds of the total cost of hospital-based infections came from surgical site infections and ventilator and respirator-related pneumonia. Researchers suggested that more than two-thirds of such infections could easily be prevented if the medical team simply followed a checklist of best practices for treating patients.

About 19 percent of costs came from central line bloodstream infections, while Clostridium difficile infections constituted about 15 percent of all costs. Though they were all-too-common, catheter-associated UTIs accounted for less than 1 percent of all hospital infection costs.

Researchers noted that medical personnel need to be meticulous in their treatment, including making sure patients are cleaned properly and ae being prescribed the proper doses of antibiotics. Patients can also have a positive impact in preventing their own infections while in the hospital. For example, if you don’t see hospital personnel wash their hands when they walk into your room, ask if they did, or ask them to wash while they’re in the room. Researchers suggest that such measures could cut the rate of surgical site infections by 40-50 percent.

If you or a loved one have become infected during a hospital stay, it could be the result of negligence on the part of hospital staff. Please contact the Texas Medical Injury Lawyer at Hill Law Firm as soon as possible, to protect your rights.

Medical Negligence, Personal Injury