Statistics on HAIs

What is an HAI?

Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are infections patients get while receiving medical treatment for something completely unrelated. They are also call hospital-acquired infections or nosocomial infections. Bacteria, fungi, viruses, or other less common pathogens can cause HAIs.

HAI Statistics

According to the CDC, approximately 1 out of 25 patients who enter a healthcare facility for care will acquire an infection that is completely unrelated to the treatment for which they sought help. [i]

The numbers are staggering – 1.7 million patients will acquire at least one of these infections and 99,000 will die annually. [ii]  This is the equivalent of a 275-person passenger jet crashing to the ground every day.

HAIs are one of the top 10 leading causes of death in the U.S.[iii]

The World Health Organization (WHO) expects antibiotic-resistant infections to be the leading cause of death by the year 2050.[iv]

One of the top risks for acquiring an antibiotic-resistant infection is staying in a healthcare facility, such as a hospital.[v]

Many patients who survive an HAI will live altered lives that may include long-term medical care and treatment.

An estimated 20-40% of HAIs have been attributed to cross-infection via the hands of health care personnel who have become contaminated from direct contact with patients, or indirectly, by touching contaminated healthcare surfaces.[vi]

 HAIs can be acquired from devices used in medical procedures, such as catheters or ventilators.[vii]

HAIs increase hospital readmission rates. Some HAIs are shown to increase the hospital readmission rate within 30 days of discharge by 60%.[viii]

The Costs of HAIs

HAIs cost the U.S. healthcare system $28-33 billion each year.[ix]

After the signing of the Deficit Reduction Act (DRA) of 2005, hospital-acquired conditions that “could reasonably have been prevented through the application of evidence-based guidelines” are not covered by Medicare. Medicare does not pay HAIs that were not present on admission — hospitals and insurance companies hold sole responsibility.[x]

As part of the Hospital-Acquired Condition Reduction Program (HACRP), the 25% of hospitals with the highest HAI rates have been penalized with a 1% Medicare payment reduction.[xi] As of February 2021, 774 hospitals have incurred penalties.[xii]

In 2011, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services began posting data on Hospital Associated Infections.[xiii] There are now resources that allow consumers to access infection rate information by hospital: https://www.medicare.gov/care-compare/

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