Hospital Acquired Infections in the News

Two common conditions caused by hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) killed 48,000 people and ramped up health care costs by $8.1 billion in 2006 alone, according to a study released yesterday in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Here is an excerpt from a summary of the study as reported at www.extendingthecure.com: 

The researchers looked at infections that developed after hospitalization. They zeroed in on infections that are often preventable, like a serious bloodstream infection that occurs because of a lapse in sterile technique during surgery, and discovered that the cost of such infections can be quite high: For example, people who developed sepsis after surgery stayed in the hospital 11 days longer and the infections cost an extra $33,000 to treat per person.

Even worse, the team found that nearly 20 percent of people who developed sepsis after surgery died as a result of the infection. “That’s the tragedy of such cases,” said Anup Malani, a study co-author, investigator at Extending the Cure, and professor at the University of Chicago. “In some cases, relatively healthy people check into the hospital for routine surgery. They develop sepsis because of a lapse in infection control—and they can die.”

The summary goes on to say as follows:

In 2002, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that all healthcare-associated infections were associated with 99,000 deaths per year. While the Extending the Cure study looked at only two of the most common and serious conditions caused by these infections, it also calculated deaths actually caused by, rather than just associated with, infections patients get in the hospital.

Based on their research, study authors were able to estimate the annual number of deaths and health care costs due to sepsis and pneumonia that is actually preventable.

“The nation urgently needs a comprehensive approach to reduce the risk posed by these deadly infections," he added. “Improving infection control is a clear way to both improve patient outcomes and lower health care costs.”

You can purchase the Archives of Internal Medicine article here.