$10 Billion Spent on Hospital Infections Every Year

In a study aimed at promoting patient safety, Harvard researchers recently found that hospitals are spending approximately $10 billion each year on infections that patients develop while in the hospital, many of which are preventable. The Illinois Department of Public Health has acknowledged this serious problem by enhancing prevention across the state. Chicago hospital error attorneys works to ensure that the high financial costs associated with hospital infections caused by negligence of hospital staff are not paid by the patient.

Most costs are associated with five types of infections

The findings of the Harvard study were published in a recent online issue of the Journal of American Medicine Association Internal Medicine. The results indicate that hospitals spend the most money on five common types of infection, including the following:

  • Central line-associated bloodstream infections
  • Pneumonia infections
  • Surgical site infections
  • Infections caused by clostridium difficile
  • Urinary tract infections

Low estimates on the costs associated with these types of infections range from $900 for the treatment of urinary tract infections to $45,000 for infections stemming from the use of devices such as intravascular catheters and ventilators. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, an infection that occurs because of medical or surgical care in the hospital extends the hospital stay by an average of 19 days. A patient suffering from a prolonged hospital stay should seek legal advice from medical malpractice lawyers in Chicago.

The financial and physical devastation indicated by the results of the study are staggering, but they are far from all-inclusive. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that five out of every 100 hospital patients acquire infections at the hospital. However, these findings excluded infections developed by children and those acquired in other types of health care facilities such as nursing homes or surgery centers.

Hospitals target infections associated with the lowest costs

Surgical site infections are the most common, occurring in approximately two out of every 100 procedures. These medical mistakes typically cost over $20,000 to treat. However, hospitals are focusing their harm reduction efforts on urinary tract infection prevention associated with the use of catheters, which are easier and less expensive to treat. In fact, lowering numbers of UTIs would not significantly lower the percentage of infections and costs because they account for less than one percent of the hospital-acquired infections.

Medical malpractice lawyers Chicago attempts to hold the hospitals accountable to prevent future negligent acts and to ensure that patients are not the ones who must bear the financial burden of these errors.