NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 11, 2006

Pennsylvania hospital patients who contracted a hospital-acquired infection in 2004 accrued costs seven times higher and were seven times more likely to die than patients who did not acquire infections, according to a report by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHCCCC).

Researchers examined data on patients with commercial health insurance from 180 hospitals. Pennsylvania is one of six states that has enacted laws requiring reporting of hospital-acquired infections. None of the other states have collected or published their results.

For 2004, the researchers found:

  • Some 1,119 patients contracted hospital acquired infections, and 288,444 patients did not.
  • Insurers paid hospitals an average of $60,678 for patients with hospital-acquired infections, compared with $8,078 for patients without infections.
  • The average length of stay for patients with infections was 21.2 days, compared with 3.4 days for patients without infections.
  • Some 10.7 percent of the patients with infections died, compared with 0.7 percent of the patients without infections.
  • For the first nine months of 2005, hospitals reported 13,711 cases of hospital infections.

Marc Volavka, executive director of the PHCCCC, says the increase in cases from 2004 to 2005 can be attributed to improved disclosure. Nationwide, hospital-acquired infections increased U.S. health care costs by an estimated $25 billion for 2005, according to the researchers.

Source: Ceci Connolly, "Infections Take Heavy Toll on Patients, ProfitHospitals Urged to Boost Prevention," Washington Post, March 29, 2006.

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