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Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Akron Univ. School of Law

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Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Cost of Nosocomial Infections in PA

Modern Healthcare's Daily Digest (requires free registration) reported Thursday that a new report set the extra health care costs of nosocomial infections in Pennsylvania hospitals at nearly $2 billion in 2004:

Infections acquired in Pennsylvania hospitals resulted in extra charges of about $1 billion to Medicare, $370 million to Medicaid and $600 million to commercial insurers in 2004, according to the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council. The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania criticized the state's methodology and conclusions, saying reimbursement equals only a fraction of charges, and denied that hospitals were underreporting infections. Council Executive Director Marc Volavka challenged individual hospitals to release specific infection data and corresponding charges and collections. The state counted about 11,700 nosocomial infections -- pneumonia, surgical site, urinary tract or bloodstream -- at 173 acute-care hospitals, a rate of about 7.5 hospital-acquired infections per 1,000 admissions. Mortality was about 16% among Medicare and Medicaid patients with nosocomial infections but was 3.7% and 1.1%, respectively, among other Medicare and Medicaid patients.

According to its website, "the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council is an independent state agency responsible for addressing the problem of escalating health costs, ensuring the quality of health care, and increasing access for all citizens regardless of ability to pay."

In a related story, Utne magazine reports in today's issue that hospital-acquired infections kill more people than breast cancer or car accidents, and its rate in patients has shot up 36 percent since 1975. [tm]

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