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MRSA Infections Still Deadly, But Less Costly

By John Commins  
   May 16, 2018

Treatment costs for drug-resistant staph infections were about $38,500 compared with more than $40,700 for MSSA-associated pneumonias.

Drug-resistant staph infections continue to be deadlier than those that are not resistant to antibiotics, but treatment costs surprisingly are the same or less, an analysis shows.

"The lower costs for treating drug-resistant infections were a surprise," said study coauthor Trish Perl, MD, chief of Infectious Diseases at UT Southwestern Medical Center. "The findings are contrary to previous predictions and studies that suggested the treatment costs for drug-resistant infections would be greater." 

Across four years of data, researchers found:

  • Treatment costs for drug-resistant staph infections (MRSA, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus -related pneumonia) were about $38,500 compared with more than $40,700 for pneumonias (MSSA, methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus –related pneumonias) in 2014.
     
  • Treatments costs for non-pneumonia-related hospitalizations related to staph infections were $15,578 for MSSA-related infections compared with $14,792 for MRSA-related infections.
     
  • Similar patterns were observed from 2010 to 2013.
     
  • Cost differences between MSSA- and MRSA-related pneumonia hospitalizations rose from 26% in 2010 to 31% in 2014. 

Reasons for the lower costs may be due to price differences in drugs used to treat the different types of infections or that MSSA infections were more severe or that less-invasive MSSA infections may not be diagnosed or coded correctly, leaving only costlier MSSA infections in the record, researchers said.

Alternatively, this difference may relate to the fact that care providers failed to change from antibiotics used for MRSA to more appropriate antibiotics in a timely fashion, the researchers said. 

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders.


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