Healthy Choices

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Hospital-acquired infections cost U.S. $10 billion annually

09/11/2013 5:33 PM

09/11/2013 5:34 PM

You think you go to the hospital to get well – but many patients end up with infections they catch in hospitals, mainly due to unclean conditions or unwashed hands.

A study reported in the JAMA Internal Medicine Journal tallied up a cost of $10 billion a year for all those hospital-acquired infections.

If hospitals were to fix all the conditions causing these infections, that’s a huge savings in health care spending, not to mention uncounted lives saved.

To come up with that $10 billion, researchers studied medical literature from 1986 through April 2013. They excluded hospitals outside of the United States.

Here are the five infections researchers focused on and the percent of cost they represented:

1. Surgical site infections = 33.7 % of the total

2. Ventilator-associated pneumonia = 31.6% of the total

3. Central line-associated bloodstream infections = 18.9% of the total

4. Clostrium difficile infections =15.4% of the total

5. Catheter-associated urinary tract infections =

About This Blog

Sacramento Bee reporters Cynthia Craft and Sammy Caiola write about community health issues in the Sacramento region. Their work is in conjunction with the California Endowment, a non-profit health foundation created in 1996.

Cynthia H. Craft is The Sacramento Bee's senior writer on health. She graduated from Ohio State University and previously worked at the Los Angeles Times and California Journal. She was a fellow in 2012 at the National Library for Medicine in Washington, D.C. at the National Institute for Health. Reach her at or 916-321-1270. Twitter: @cynthiahcraft.

Sammy Caiola joined The Sacramento Bee as a health reporter in 2014. She is a recent graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, where she was a Top 10 finisher in the William Randolph Hearst College Journalism Awards. Reach her at or 916-321-1636. Twitter: @SammyCaiola.


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