Skip to main content

Infection Prevention Saves Lives and Money

By Alexandra Wilson Pecci  
   January 20, 2015

Preventing two of the most common healthcare-associated infections reduces the cost of patient care by more than $150,000. The cost of running an infection prevention program in the ICU is about $145,000.

Preventing infections in the ICU not only saves lives; it also saves money, finds a new study published in the American Journal of Infection Control.

The study found that elderly patients admitted to ICUs are about 35% more likely to die within five years of leaving the hospital if they develop an infection during their stay.

Preventing two of the most common healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) not only increases their survival odds but also reduces the cost of their care by more than $150,000.

Those two HAIs—central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI) and ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP)—are preventable, says senior study author Patricia Stone, Centennial Professor of Health Policy and Director of the Center for Health Policy at Columbia University School of Nursing.


Patricia Stone

A report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week shows significant reductions at the national level in 2013 for nearly all HAIs. Still, "just one HAI is one too many," Stone told me via email.

This new study shows that it pays to prevent infections, finding that on average, the ongoing cost of running an infection prevention program in the ICU is about $145,000. Those prevention efforts reduced ICU costs by $174,713 per patient for each instance of CLABSI, and by $163,090 for VAP.

In addition to cost-effectiveness, the study found that proper CLABSI prevention efforts resulted in an estimated gain of 15.55 years of life on average for all patients treated in the ICU. Efforts to prevent VAP resulted in an estimated gain of 10.84 years of life.

Alexandra Wilson Pecci is an editor for HealthLeaders.

Tagged Under:


Get the latest on healthcare leadership in your inbox.