Hospital infections cost billions

Health care associated infections affect 1.7 million hospitalizations each year.  An article in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that pneumonia and blood-borne infections caught in hospital killed 48,000 patients and cost $8.1 billion in 2006. 

The study examined hospital discharge records from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample database to identify sepsis and pneumonia cases among 69 million discharges from hospitals in 40 US states between 1998 and 2006. 

Measures to prevent infection include careful handwashing, hygiene and screening patients when they check in. However, these measures are difficult to enforce, many studies have found.

(SOURCES: Advisory Board Daily Briefing, http://advisory.com, February 23, 2010; Archives of Internal Medicine, http://archinte.ama-assn.org, February 22, 2010)