New study shows sepsis and pneumonia caused by hospital-acquired infections kill 48,000 patients

Feb 22, 2010

Two common conditions caused by hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) killed 48,000 people and ramped up health care costs by $8.1 billion in 2006 alone, according to a study released today in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

This is the largest nationally representative study to date of the toll taken by sepsis and pneumonia, two conditions often caused by deadly microbes, including the antibiotic-resistant bacteria MRSA. Such infections can lead to longer hospital stays, serious complications and even death.

"In many cases, these conditions could have been avoided with better infection control in hospitals," said Ramanan Laxminarayan, Ph.D., principal investigator for Extending the Cure, a project examining based at the Washington, D.C. think-tank Resources for the Future.

"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 costs," he said. "Hospitals and other health care providers must act now to protect patients from this growing menace."

Laxminarayan and his colleagues analyzed 69 million discharge records from hospitals in 40 states and identified two conditions caused by health care-associated infections: sepsis, a potentially lethal systemic response to infection and pneumonia, an infection of the lungs and .

The researchers looked at infections that developed after hospitalization. They zeroed in on infections that are often preventable, like a serious that occurs because of a lapse in sterile technique during surgery, and discovered that the cost of such infections can be quite high: For example, people who developed sepsis after surgery stayed in the hospital 11 days longer and the infections cost an extra $33,000 to treat per person.

Even worse, the team found that nearly 20 percent of people who developed sepsis after surgery died as a result of the infection. "That's the tragedy of such cases," said Anup Malani, a study co-author, investigator at Extending the Cure, and professor at the University of Chicago. "In some cases, relatively healthy people check into the hospital for routine surgery. They develop sepsis because of a lapse in infection control—and they can die."

The team also looked at pneumonia, an infection that can set in if a disease-causing microbe gets into the lungs—in some cases when a dirty ventilator tube is used. They found that people who developed pneumonia after surgery, which is also thought to be preventable, stayed in the hospital an extra 14 days. Such cases cost an extra $46,000 per person to treat. In 11 percent of the cases, the patient died as a result of the pneumonia infection.

According to the authors, HAIs frequently are caused by microbes that defy treatment with common antibiotics. "These superbugs are increasingly difficult to treat and, in some cases, trigger infections that ultimately cause the body's organs to shut down," said Malani.

In 2002, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that all hospital-acquired infections were associated with 99,000 deaths per year. While the Extending the Cure study looked at only two of the most common and serious conditions caused by these infections, it also calculated deaths actually caused by, rather than just associated with, infections patients get in the hospital.

Based on their research, study authors were able to estimate the annual number of deaths and health care costs due to and that is actually preventable.

"The nation urgently needs a comprehensive approach to reduce the risk posed by these deadly infections," he added. "Improving infection control is a clear way to both improve patient outcomes and lower health care costs."

Explore further: Obama addresses West Africans on facts about Ebola

Provided by Burness Communications

4.7 /5 (3 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New study finds MRSA on the rise in hospital outpatients

Nov 24, 2009

The community-associated strain of the deadly superbug MRSA -- an infection-causing bacteria resistant to most common antibiotics -- poses a far greater health threat than previously known and is making its way into hospitals, ...

Cellphones may spread superbugs in hospitals: study

Mar 06, 2009

Cell phones belonging to hospital staff were found to be tainted with bacteria -- including the drug-resistant MRSA superbug -- and may be a source of hospital-acquired infections, according to study released Friday.

Staph infections carry long-term risks

Jul 03, 2008

Patients who harbor the highly contagious bacterium causing staph infections can develop serious and sometimes deadly symptoms a year or longer after initial detection, a UC Irvine infectious disease researcher has found.

Recommended for you

Obama addresses West Africans on facts about Ebola

9 hours ago

President Barack Obama urged West Africans on Tuesday to wear gloves and masks when caring for Ebola patients or burying anyone who died of the disease. He also discouraged the traditional burial practice ...

Gluten-free diet benefits asymptomatic EmA+ adults

9 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Asymptomatic individuals with endomysial antibodies (EmA) benefit from a gluten-free diet (GFD), according to a study published in the September issue of Gastroenterology.

Another US health worker infected with Ebola

10 hours ago

A third American health worker has tested positive for the Ebola virus while working with patients in West Africa, the Christian missionary group SIM said Tuesday.

UN implores all countries to help on Ebola

12 hours ago

The international group Doctor Without Borders warned Tuesday that the world is 'losing the battle' against Ebola, while U.N. officials implored all countries to quickly step up their response by contributing health experts ...

Travel restrictions could worsen Ebola crisis: experts

16 hours ago

Travel restrictions could worsen West Africa's Ebola epidemic, limiting medical and food supplies and keeping out much-needed doctors, virologists said Tuesday as the disease continued its deadly spread.

User comments : 0