In a first-ever report of its kind, Pennsylvania tallied 11,668 confirmed hospital-acquired infections in the state in 2004, associated with 1,793 deaths, approximately 205,000 extra hospital days and $2 billion in additional hospital charges. The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council said the infections reported by the state's hospitals probably vastly understated the problem, based on the 115,631 infections identified as possibly hospital-acquired through a review of payments by third-party payers. Twenty-nine of the 173 hospitals in the state reported more than half of the confirmed infections, while 16 hospitals, including several large ones, reported no infections, the agency said. The council did not release hospital-specific data so as not to penalize hospitals that complied with reporting requirements, officials said. Pennsylvania hospitals have been required to submit data on four types of hospital-acquired infections since 2004.
The average payment for hospital care of a patient with a hospital-acquired infection exceeded $29,000 in 2003, compared with an average of $8,300 for patients without infections, according to insurance data. The council estimated that insurance payments for the 11,668 reported infections totaled nearly $350 million. Read the agency's research brief. -- by Cinda Becker