Background: Assessing the costs of healthcare-associated infection (HAI) is challenging. Methodological issues abound. Previous estimates have been derived in diverse ways from varied perspectives in different settings with dissimilar data. RESULTS can be confusing. Full societal costs, which are more inclusive than commonly reported direct hospital costs, have never been fully measured or reported.
Objective: To update, combine, and expand previous cost estimates to determine the annual societal burden of illness (direct medical, non-medical, and indirect costs) arising from HAIs in US acute-care hospitals.
Methods: The research approach encompassed literature and internet searches; reference identification, selection, and review; then data abstraction, compilation, and analyses to estimate full societal costs. Previously published systemic reviews, surveillance reports, and individual clinical studies, along with newly computed component costs, all contributed to final estimates.
Results: HAIs in US acute-care hospitals lead to direct and indirect costs totaling $96-$147 billion annually. These results are subject to the same limitations as previous studies from which contributing data were derived.
Conclusion: The enormous clinical and economic burden of infection places HAIs high on the list of devastating and costly illnesses, such as cancer, heart attack, stroke, and diabetes, thereby mandating further research and greater efforts to contain a pressing healthcare problem.