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Cost of Healthcare Associated Infections

Today, more people die from healthcare associated infections here in the United States than all the deaths from auto accidents and gun violence combined, over 99,000 annual or roughly 275 people a day, a published range of estimates for the annual direct hospital cost of treating healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) in the United States. Applying two different Consumer Price Index (CPI) adjustments to account for the rate of inflation in hospital resource prices, the overall annual direct medical costs of HAI to U.S. hospitals ranges from $28.4 to $33.8 billion (after adjusting to 2007 dollars using the CPI for all urban consumers) and $35.7 billion to $45 billion (after adjusting to 2007 dollars using the CPI for inpatient hospital services). After adjusting for the range of effectiveness of possible infection control interventions, the benefits of prevention range from a low of $5.7 to $6.8 billion (20 percent of infections preventable, CPI for all urban consumers) to a high of $25.0 to $31.5 billion (70 percent of infections preventable, CPI for inpatient hospital services).


In 2014, results of a project known as the HAI Prevalence Survey were published. The Survey described the burden of HAIs in U.S. hospitals, and reported that, in 2011, there were an estimated 722,000 HAIs in U.S. acute care hospitals (see chart below). Additionally, about 75,000 patients with HAIs died during their hospitalizations. More than half of all HAIs occurred outside of the intensive care unit.


HAI Estimates Occurring in US Acute Care Hospitals, 2011
Major Site of Infection Estimated No.
Pneumonia 157,500
Gastrointestinal Illness 123,100
Urinary Tract Infections 93,300
Primary Bloodstream Infections 71,900
Surgical site infections from any inpatient surgery 157,500
Other types of infections 118,500
Estimated total number of infections in hospitals 721,800
        The following is a link to the costs to hospitals based on 2014 study :
Absenteeism rates were highest in the health care and social assistance sector at 14 days per employee,
followed by government or public administration at 12.8 days. Within the health care profession, support
staff have the highest rate at 16.6 days followed by nurses at 15.8 days. It is an industry where shift work
and overtime are common. Combined, these factors make it difficult for employees to get the rest that they
need. Health care workers are in perpetual contact with patients who are ill. When confronted with a stressful
work environment, they are even more susceptible to infection. Forty-eight per cent of nurses say they fear
contracting a serious illness at work. Twenty-nine per cent of nurses have reported being physically assaulted by a patient and 44 per cent report being emotionally abused. A study funded by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board found that three in five health care workers report high levels of work overload. The study, based on a survey of nearly 1,400 health care workers, points to a stressful culture where everything is urgent, there is a lack of staff, and the work is extremely complex. All of these factors certainly contribute to the high level of absenteeism within the health care sector.
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