HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Just Two of Many Hospital-Acquired Infections Kill 48,000 Patients, Cost $8.1 Billion To Treat

ScienceDaily reports on a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine that investigates two common conditions caused by hospital-acquired infections (HAIs). The study reveals that these two HAI alone killed 48,000 people and ramped up health care costs by $8.1 billion in 2006.

This is the largest nationally representative study to date of the toll taken by sepsis and pneumonia, two conditions often caused by deadly microbes, including the antibiotic-resistant bacteria MRSA. Such infections can lead to longer hospital stays, serious complications and even death.

'In many cases, these conditions could have been avoided with better infection control in hospitals,' said Ramanan Laxminarayan, Ph.D., principal investigator for Extending the Cure, a project examining antibiotic resistance based at the Washington, D.C. think-tank Resources for the Future.

'Infections that are acquired during the course of a hospital stay cost the United States a staggering amount in terms of lives lost and health care costs,' he said. 'Hospitals and other health care providers must act now to protect patients from this growing menace.'

In 2002, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that all hospital-acquired infections were associated with 99,000 deaths per year. While the Extending the Cure study looked at only two of the most common and serious conditions caused by these infections, it also calculated deaths actually caused by, rather than just associated with, infections patients get in the hospital.

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