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Preventing infections saves billions of bucks
New CDC report shows hospital CEOs the money
Health care-associated infections cause direct medical costs as high as $45 billion annually in U.S. hospitals, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports in a new analysis.
The estimates depend on the data sets used, but suffice it to say a billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money. One estimate in the report concludes that HAIs cost between $28.4 and $33.8 billion; another calculation cites the damage at $35.7 billion to $45 billion annually. The report uses results from the published medical and economic literature to provide a range of estimates for the annual direct hospital cost of treating health care-associated infections (HAIs) in the United States.
The benefits of prevention also are stratified along a range, with the CDC estimating that if 20% of infections are preventable, then $5.7 billion to $6.8 billion could be saved, while preventing 70% would net $25 billion to $31.5 billion.
"While there is considerable variability in the costs of HAI, the low-cost estimates of $5.7 to $6.8 billion annually are still substantial when compared to the cost of inpatient stays for other medical conditions," the CDC concluded. "According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the three principal diagnoses with the highest annual aggregate inpatient hospital costs (in 2006 dollars) include coronary artery disease ($17.5 billion), heart attack ($11.8 billion), and congestive heart failure ($11.2). Even if the effectiveness of HAI prevention is low, the direct medical cost of preventable HAIs is comparable to the costs of stroke ($6.7 billion), diabetes mellitus with complications ($4.5 billion), and chronic obstructive lung disease ($4.2 billion)."
The report included the following range of costs associated with specific infections:
(Editor's note: The full CDC report, "The Direct Medical Costs of Healthcare-Associated Infections in U.S. Hospitals and the Benefits of Prevention," is available at: www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dhqp/.)