Economic burden of surgical site infections at a European university hospital

Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2008 Jul;29(7):623-9. doi: 10.1086/589331.


Objective: To quantify the economic burden of in-hospital surgical site infections (SSIs) at a European university hospital.

Design: Matched case-control study nested in a prospective observational cohort study.

Setting: Basel University Hospital in Switzerland, where an average of 28,000 surgical procedures are performed per year.

Methods: All in-hospital occurrences of SSI associated with surgeries performed between January 1, 2000, and December 31, 2001, by the visceral, vascular, and traumatology divisions at Basel University Hospital were prospectively recorded. Each case patient was matched to a control patient by age, procedure code, and National Nosocomial Infection Surveillance System risk index. The case-control pairs were analyzed for differences in cost of hospital care and in provision of specialized care.

Results: A total of 6,283 procedures were performed: 187 SSIs were detected in inpatients, 168 of whom were successfully matched with a control patient. For case patients, the mean additional hospital cost was SwF-19,638 (95% confidence interval [CI], SwF-8,492-SwF-30,784); the mean additional postoperative length of hospital stay was 16.8 days (95% CI, 13-20.6 days); and the mean additional in-hospital duration of antibiotic therapy was 7.4 days (95% CI, 5.1-9.6 days). Differences were primarily attributable to organ space SSIs (n = 76).

Conclusions: In a European university hospital setting, SSIs are costly and constitute a heavy and potentially preventable burden on both patients and healthcare providers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cross Infection / drug therapy
  • Cross Infection / economics*
  • Cross Infection / epidemiology
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Hospital Costs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitals, University / economics*
  • Hospitals, University / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Surgical Wound Infection / drug therapy
  • Surgical Wound Infection / economics*
  • Surgical Wound Infection / epidemiology
  • Surgical Wound Infection / prevention & control
  • Switzerland


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents