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Post-Surgery Infection Can Add $60,000 to Hospital Bill

Patients often need three more weeks' hospitalization, study finds

FRIDAY, Dec. 18, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- Surgical patients whose incisions become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria are at greatly increased risk for hospital readmission and death, claims a new study that found that treating this type of infection can cost as much as $60,000 per patient.

Duke University Medical Center researchers examined the 90-day postoperative outcomes of 659 patients. Some had surgical site infections caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), some were infected with methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA), and others had no infection.

"We found that patients with surgical site infections due to MRSA were 35 times more likely to be readmitted and seven times more likely to die within 90 days compared to uninfected surgical patients," lead author Dr. Deverick J. Anderson, an infectious diseases specialist, said in a news release. "These patients also required more than three weeks of additional hospitalization and accrued more than $60,000 in additional charges."

The study also found that patients with MRSA averaged six more days of hospitalization and $24,000 more in additional hospital charges than those with MSSA. However, the researchers were surprised that those infected with MRSA didn't have a higher risk of death than those with MSSA.

"For the seven hospitals we looked at, the total estimated cost resulting from surgical site infections due to MRSA was more than $19 million. That's a staggering amount, which demonstrates an area of cost-saving potential for these institutions and other community hospitals," Anderson said.

The study was published online Dec. 15 in the journal PLoS One.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has more about MRSA.

SOURCE: Duke University Medical Center, news release, Dec. 16, 2009
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