How Much Are HAIs Really Costing Your Healthcare Facility?

HAIs costly for hospitals

Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are an enormous problem for healthcare providers, their patients, and their communities. 

Collectively, 1 in 31 patients entering a treatment space will acquire an HAI, and at any given time, 1.4 million people suffer from these infections. Nearly 100,000 Americans annually will die because they contracted an HAI, putting a staggering human toll on an often preventable healthcare crisis. 


HAIs also have a tremendous financial cost. Healthcare providers spend $28.4 to $45 billion annually on HAIs, negatively impacting their budgets and directly affecting patient care and organizational sustainability. 


For most people in the healthcare space, this isn’t new information. 


It’s more like an unfortunate fact of life: some patients will come to healthcare facilities seeking treatment, but instead, they will get even sicker, some will die, and everyone will live with the consequences. This may be the status quo, but it doesn’t have to be. 


By moving beyond the broad statistics to understand the costs to individual healthcare providers, it’s clear that every provider has numerous incentives to reverse this troubling trend. Here are four often overlooked costs of HAIs straining your facility right now. 

#1 Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Hospitals that fail to follow established treatment protocols, cleanliness standards, or facility regulations are liable for financial damages. According to a study by The National Center for Biotechnology Information, fault-based liability can arise from several factors, including non-compliance with specific hygiene and sanitation practices. 


The study found that nearly 63 percent of litigations resulted in a conviction, eight percent higher than medical malpractice claims related to other healthcare issues. Even when healthcare providers are not found liable, they may experience higher malpractice insurance premiums. Defending against malpractice litigation is also expensive. 


With 55 percent of HAIs estimated to be preventable, preemptive investments in mitigation measures can reduce providers’ exposure to litigation, saving time and money while improving patient outcomes. 

#2 Patient Treatment Expenses    

While total HAI expenditures cost the healthcare system billions of dollars, this enormous amount can feel like an abstraction to individual healthcare providers. However, that significant sum consists of millions of individual cases, many preventable, that impact healthcare providers’ bottom lines.


Healthcare providers should expect to spend $15,000 for each HAI, which can quickly add up and deplete already finite budgets due to prolonged hospital stays, additional diagnostic tests, and extended care. 


What’s more, a separate analysis by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that “In most scenarios, hospitals recovered only a portion of excess HAI costs through increased payments,” making HAIs a budgetary net negative. 

#3 Opportunity Costs 

Patients who contract an HAI stay longer, require more human resources, and deprive others of care opportunities. Every minute spent treating a patient with an HAI is time not spent meeting the surging demand for high-quality medical care. 


For example, ER wait times are already a “crisis situation,” with many patients waiting hours for treatment or recovering outside treatment rooms. The problem is so acute that one report found that chronic staffing shortages, overworked teams, difficulty recruiting after the pandemic, and frequent surging caseloads often overwhelm the system. HAIs exacerbate these challenges. 


Additionally, the study found that 91 percent of admitted patients waited more than three hours for an inpatient bed, which amounts to a potential revenue loss of $204 per patient. In other words, there is an opportunity cost to HAIs that many healthcare providers are overlooking


The equation is simple: the more patients who contract HAIs, the less care providers can offer other people. When healthcare providers can serve fewer patients, their budgets become strained, communities get sicker, and overall public health declines. 

#4 Curtailed Medicare Reimbursements 

The 2010 Affordable Care Act introduced a new dynamic for healthcare providers: pay for performance. Instead of paying providers solely based on the volume of services they provide, pay for performance rewards them for meeting specific performance measures related to patient outcomes, adherence to best practices, and overall efficiency.


This initiative incentivizes hospitals and healthcare providers to deliver high-quality care. As a result, hospitals may face financial penalties and reduced reimbursements from insurers and government programs due to high HAI rates.


This structure puts financial pressure on healthcare providers to elevate patient care by reducing HAIs at their facilities. More recently, the Center for Medicare Services introduced its Hospital-Acquired Condition, linking HAI prevention with Medicare payments. 


Under this provision, Medicare will “reduce the payments of subsection (d) hospitals with a Total HAC Score greater than the 75th percentile of all Total HAC Scores (that is, the worst-performing quartile) by 1 percent.”


It’s well known that HAIs are bad for patients and the healthcare system, so it’s more likely that regulators and decision-makers will increasingly connect financial incentives to HAI reduction. 

Preventing HAIs is Good Business 

Preventing HAIs in any healthcare setting can feel daunting. After all, if solving it were simple, every healthcare provider would do it. However, HAI prevention is possible, and it’s good business to pursue it. 


As a study published by the National Library of Medicine notes, HAIs are “unnecessarily adverse events because they can be avoided through proper healthcare worker behavior and adherence to evidence-based infection prevention procedures and guidelines.”


There are several steps that any healthcare provider can take to lower the likelihood of their patients contracting an HAI. Advanced disinfection for all patient spaces is an important and impactful first step. 


Nevoa is here to partner with you in this process, providing automated disinfection technology and highly effective disinfection protocols that improve patient safety by reducing the risk of HAIs. 


Contact us today and let us partner with you to provide high-quality patient care and capitalize on the benefits of having a best-in-class disinfection that helps prevent HAIs before they occur. 

Subscribe to Newsletter

Enter your email address to register 

to our newsletter subscription!