Objectives: To estimate the cost of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) in a network of 28 community hospitals and to compare this sum to the amount budgeted for infection control programs at each institution and for the entire network.
Design: We reviewed literature published since 1985 to estimate costs for specific HAIs. Using these estimates, we determined the costs attributable to specific HAIs in a network of 28 hospitals during a 1-year period (January 1 through December 31, 2004). Cost-saving models based on reductions in HAIs were calculated.
Setting: Twenty-eight community hospitals in the southeastern region of the United States.
Results: The weight-adjusted mean cost estimates for HAIs were $25,072 per episode of ventilator-associated pneumonia, $23,242 per nosocomial blood stream infection, $10,443 per surgical site infection, and $758 per catheter-associated urinary tract infection. The median annual cost of HAIs per hospital was $594,683 (interquartile range [IQR], $299,057-$1,287,499). The total annual cost of HAIs for the 28 hospitals was greater than $26 million. Hospitals budgeted a median of $129,000 (IQR, $92,500-$200,000) for infection control; the median annual cost of HAIs was 4.6 (IQR, 3.4-8.0) times the amount budgeted for infection control. An annual reduction in HAIs of 25% could save each hospital a median of $148,667 (IQR, $74,763-$296,861) and could save the group of hospitals more than $6.5 million.
Conclusions: The economic cost of HAIs in our group of 28 study hospitals was enormous. In the modern age of infection control and patient safety, the cost-control ratio will become the key component of successful infection control programs.