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HAI Rates on the Decline

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, August 26, 2010

There's bad news and good news about hospital-acquired infection trends in the U.S.

On the bad news side, infections associated with medical care kept patients in a hospital bed on average 19.2 days longer, and cost $43,000 more than if the patient had not been infected, according to a study based on information from 2007 from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The average length of stay for a patient with an infection due to medical care was 24.4 days and resulted in a cost of $52,096, the agency said.

The rate of death in the hospital, on average, was six times as high for patients with an HAI as for patients without (9% versus 1.5%) Also, on average, the cost of a hospital stay of an adult patient who developed an HAI  was about $43,000 more expensive than the stay of a patient  without an HAI ($52,096 versus $9,377).

Hospital size was also part of the equation in whether a patient was infected.  Hospitals with 500 or more beds, and which were located in urban settings, which were private and for profit, and those that engaged in medical student teaching had higher HAI rates than smaller hospitals, non-profit facilities, those in rural settings, and those without medical schools.

Septicemia, or infection of the bloodstream was the most common diagnosis (11.8%) of patients whose hospital stay was prolonged because of infection.  Adult respiratory failure was second most common, (5.9%) and complications from surgical procedures or medical care were the third (4.1%).

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