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Study Finds Antibiotic-Resistant Infection Treatment Costs Have Doubled Since 2002

March 26, 2018

A study published in Heath Affairs found that, between 2002–2014, an estimated 14 million infections occurred each year in U.S. civilian non-institutionalized adults, and 1.2 million of them were due to antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

According to the study’s authors, it is the first study to look at incremental health care costs of treating adult patients with these infections. They found:

  • The amount of infections due to antibiotic-resistant bacteria increased from 5.2 percent to 11 percent during this time, although the number of bacterial infections did not vary much from year to year
  • Sixty-one percent of the antibiotic-resistant infections were associated with urinary tract infections
  • Infections with resistant bacteria added an estimated average cost of $1,383 to the cost of treating a patient, most likely due to the increased length of stay and antibiotic treatment
  • The estimated $2.2 billion for treating patients with antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections is most likely even higher because patients in nursing homes, other long-term care facilities, prisons, and Veterans Affairs facilities were not included in the study
  • The authors strongly support the five-point National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria released during 2015 by the White House, which focuses on the avoidance of antibiotic overuse

As part of HAP’s Hospital Improvement Innovation Network (HIIN), participating hospitals are working to reduce health care-associated infections such as catheter-associated urinary tract infections and to decrease the use of antibiotics through a stewardship program. These hospitals have seen significant decreases in these types of infections and improvement in antibiotic usage.

To learn more about HAP’s HIIN projects, including how your hospital can participate, contact HAP’s Project Managers Mary Catanzaro at or Clare Edelmayer.

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