According to a study released in the Archives of Internal Medicine, health care-associated infections affect nearly two millions hospitalizations annually.

Researchers from Resources for the Future, the University of Maryland and the University of Chicago examined 69 million discharge records from an eight year time span to identify cases of pneumonia and sepsis (blood infections) acquired in a health care setting.

They came up with some very interesting, expensive and serious numbers:

• Hospital acquired sepsis and pneumonia killed 48,000 patients in 2006
• Patients who got sepsis after surgery the costs attributed to this were nearly $33,000 on average. The mean length of stay in the hospital was 11 days and nearly 20% of patients who got sepsis died from it.
• With health care associated pneumonia after surgery, the numbers are even worse costing $46,000, with an average hospital stay of 14 days and patient mortality of over 11%.
• In cases of sepsis and pneumonia not associated with surgery the numbers are somewhat less.
• Many of the health care-associate infections are due to Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and other multi-drug resistant organisms.

To sum it up, hospital acquired infections are potentially deadly and very expensive and resource intensive. Preventive measures include the tried and true technique of handwashing and screening patients for multi-drug resistant organisms upon admission.