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Understanding the Economic Impact of Health Care-Associated Infections

A Cost Perspective Analysis

Scott, R. Douglas II, PhD; Culler, Steven D., PhD; Rask, Kimberly J., MD, PhD

doi: 10.1097/NAN.0000000000000313

The economic impacts from preventing health care-associated infections (HAIs) can differ for patients, health care providers, third-party payers, and all of society. Previous studies from the provider perspective have estimated an economic burden of approximately $10 billion annually for HAIs. The impact of using a societal cost perspective has been illustrated by modifying a previously published analysis to include the economic value of mortality risk reductions. The resulting costs to society from HAIs exceed $200 billion annually. This article describes an alternative hospital accounting framework outlining the cost of a quality model which can better incorporate the broader societal cost of HAIs into the provider perspective.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia (Dr Scott); and Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia (Drs Culler and Rask).

R. Douglas Scott II, PhD, is an economist for the Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. His research focuses on the use of prevention effectiveness methods and regulatory impact analyses to evaluate programs to prevent health care-associated infections and improve patient safety.

Steven D. Culler, PhD, is a health economist at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. He has published numerous peer-reviewed articles explaining the variation in the use of health care services, estimating the incremental cost of treating selected adverse events, and performing cost-effectiveness studies.

Kimberly J. Rask, MD, PhD, is a primary care physician and health economist, holding joint appointments in health policy and management and medicine at Emory University. Her publications focus on primary care practice, quality improvement, and outcomes measurement. She also serves on national expert panels on value-based purchasing programs and quality measurement.

Corresponding Author: R. Douglas Scott II, PhD, Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, National Center for Zoonotic and Emerging Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road MS A16, Atlanta, GA 30329-4027 (

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the CDC.

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