Hospital Infections Cost Almost $10 Billion

YERUSHALAYIM -

Infections contracted in hospitals account for almost $10 billion a year in medical costs in the U.S., according to a study conducted by an Israeli physician in Boston, The Jerusalem Post reported.

The research over three years was done by Dr. Eyal Zimlichman of Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, Israel, at Boston’s Harvard University Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Dr. Zimlichman found that hospital-borne, or nosocomial, infections cost patients and institutions an annual cost of $9.8 billion annually due to various complications.

More than one-third of the costs are related to surgical site infections, with one-quarter due to ventilator-associated pneumonia and one-fifth to catheter-related bloodstream infection.

Now back in Israel, where Dr. Zimlichman is deputy director-general in charge of quality at Tel Hashomer, the challenge is no less serious.

A state comptroller’s report issued earlier this year said that 4,000 to 6,000 Israelis die of complications from such infections each year, and 40,000 hospital patients — or 7 to 10 percent — suffer from them.

While U.S. health professionals are making headway in combating nosocomial infections, awareness in Israel lags behind.

“In fact, the Health Ministry is dealing with this field more than before, but without investing funds specifically for this purpose and hiring more personnel in the field of infection prevention, there will be no change in direction here,” Dr. Zimlichman said.