Healthy Choices

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

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 =