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Health care-associated infections cost $45 billion annually

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Aug. 5, 2013

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About 1.7 million Americans acquire infections in health care settings each year, killing 99,000 patients and adding $45 billion to the nation’s annual medical expenses, said a report issued in July by the Alliance for Aging Research (link).

The Washington nonprofit group, which advocates for more spending on medical research to aid the aging baby boomer population, noted that seniors are dramatically affected by infections acquired in hospitals, nursing homes and other health care facilities. For example, senior patients are two to five times likelier than younger patients to develop a health care-associated infection. Nearly half of patients who acquire infections in health care settings are 65 or older, said the group’s report, part of The Silver Book, the alliance’s annual almanac of health statistics drawn from government reports and medical journals.

“This is an issue that is especially critical for older adults who often have compromised immune systems, pay more visits to hospitals and doctor’s offices, and suffer from comorbidities that complicate outcomes,” said Lindsay Clarke, the alliance’s vice president of health programs. “We simply cannot afford to continue on our current path of mounting infections and resistance.”

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