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Infection Rates in Hospitals


Although public reporting of infection rates is still not very widespread among U.S. hospitals, reports do suggest it is a significant health problem. A report published from Pennsylvania(1) found that, on average, 12.2 patients per 1,000 acquired an infection from the hospital at which they were treated. The average cost to private insurers was $59,915 for hospitalized patient with an acquired (also called nosocomial) infection, compared with $8,311 for those who did not. Obviously this is a public health problem of significant proportions, and for patients in intensive care and other critical units the additional burden on the healthcare system could be astronomical. Conservative estimates over the last decades have suggested that 5-10% of hospitalized patients in developed countries acquire nosocomial infections. However, the actual number could be much higher.

The two most common microbial agents involved in nosocomial infections are Methicillin Resistant Staph aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile, which can be fatal in high risk patients with compromised immunity. Fortunately, as these infections get almost exclusively transmitted through contact, prevention programs that stress barrier methods and sterile surgical techniques can be highly effective.

Surgical site infections represent a significant proportion of these infections, 22% according to CDC estimates(2), and as critically ill patients often have intravenous lines inserted outside a perfectly sterile operating department atmosphere, they stand a correspondingly higher chance to acquire such infections. If not treated aggressively, an additional 14% can get bloodstream infections, which can have higher case fatality rates.



(1) http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/health/2006-11-14-infections-usat_x.htm

(2) http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dhqp/hai.html


The consumer health information on this Website is for informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical conditions.