Malani Study Shows Hospital-Acquired Infections to be Deadly and Expensive

Two hospital-acquired infections estimated to have killed 48,000, cost $8.1 billion in 2006
Katherine Harmon
Scientific American
February 22, 2010

When patients get infections in the hospital, the ramifications can be expensive—and sometimes deadly.

Hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), including staph, pneumonia, sepsis and others, account for 44,000 to 98,000 deaths and $17 billion to $29 billion in additional costs each year, the Institute of Medicine (the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences) estimated about a decade ago.

"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," Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy at the nonprofit research group Resources for the Future, said in a prepared statement.

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How can these numbers be reduced? "In many cases, these conditions could have been avoided with better infection control in hospitals," Laxminarayan said. But as superbug infections such as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) spread, they "are increasingly difficult to treat," Anup Malani, a law professor at the University of Chicago and co-author of the study, said in a prepared statement.

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