The total annual cost associated with the five major health care-associated infections (HAIs) is $9.8 billion, according to a meta-analysis published online in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Eyal Zimlichman, M.D., from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and colleagues conducted a systematic review of the literature to estimate costs associated with the most significant and targetable HAIs.

The researchers found that the most costly HAIs on a per-case basis were central-line associated bloodstream infections ($45,814), followed by ventilator-associated pneumonia ($40,144), surgical site infections ($20,785), Clostridium difficile infection ($11,285), and catheter-associated urinary tract infections ($896). For the five major infections, the total annual costs were $9.8 billion. Of the total costs, 33.7 percent were contributed by surgical site infections, 31.6 percent by ventilator-associated pneumonia, 18.9 percent by central line-associated blood stream infections, 15.4 percent by C. difficile infections, and less than 1 percent by catheter-associated urinary tract infections.

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“While quality improvement initiatives have decreased HAI incidence and costs, much more remains to be done,” the authors write. “As hospitals realize savings from prevention of these complications under payment reforms, they may be more likely to invest in such strategies.”