Interhospital variability in health care-associated infections and payments after durable ventricular assist device implant among Medicare beneficiaries

J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2022 Nov;164(5):1561-1568. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2021.04.074. Epub 2021 May 4.


Objective: The objective of this study was to investigate variations across hospitals in infection rates and associated costs, the latter reflected in 90-day Medicare payments. Despite high rates and expenditures of health care--associated infections associated with durable ventricular assist device implantation, few studies have examined interhospital variation and associated costs.

Methods: Clinical data on 8688 patients who received primary durable ventricular assist devices from July 2008 to July 2017 from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons Interagency Registry for Mechanically Assisted Circulatory Support (Intermacs) hospitals (n = 120) were merged with postimplantation 90-day Medicare claims. Terciles of hospital-specific, risk-adjusted infection rates per 100 patient-months were estimated using Intermacs and associated with Medicare payments (among 5440 Medicare beneficiaries). Primary outcomes included infections within 90 days of implantation and Medicare payments.

Results: There were 3982 infections identified among 27.8% (2417/8688) of patients developing an infection. The median (25th, 75th percentile) adjusted incidence of infections (per 100 patient-months) across hospitals was 14.3 (9.3, 19.5) and varied according to hospital (range, 0.0-35.6). Total Medicare payments from implantation to 90 days were 9.0% (absolute difference: $13,652) greater in high versus low infection tercile hospitals (P < .0001). The period between implantation to discharge accounted for 73.1% of the difference in payments during the implantation to 90-day period across terciles.

Conclusions: Health care--associated infection rates post durable ventricular assist device implantation varied according to hospital and were associated with increased 90-day Medicare expenditures. Interventions targeting preventing infections could improve the value of durable ventricular assist device support from the societal and hospital perspectives.

Keywords: expenditure; infection; ventricular assist device.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cross Infection*
  • Health Expenditures
  • Heart Failure*
  • Heart-Assist Devices* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Medicare
  • Patient Discharge
  • Registries
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States / epidemiology