The Consequences of a Hospital-Acquired Infection


Added revenue from additional treatment $25,000 to $250,000
Added profit from additional treatment $1,750 to $17,500
Patient census goes up five to 20 patient days
Added work for infectious disease doctors and lab specialists
Slim chance of a hit on a public report in 27 states for a few procedures
Greatly added revenue for pharmacy
Might cause a move from a two-patient room to a private room (usually compensated)


Possible guilt feelings for an individual or team
Usually don’t know who caused infection
Usually don’t know which patients received an infection
Not recorded in any performance reviews
No change in compensation
Major headache for infection control professionals


Significant chance of death
Significant chance of permanent disability
Full emotional burden
Full physical burden
Full financial cost (sometimes bankruptcy)
Highly likely loss of workdays
Haunted by fear of recurrence
Greatly increased chance of infection in future surgeries

Consequences are one of the few events in life that, depending on context, will produce either action or apathy. Healthcare is learning that one of the side effects of infections is an ever growing, extremely passionate family of infection victims and survivors who will no longer accept infections as an inevitable cost of treatment.

Kerry O’Connell, 2011


About Kerry O'Connell

Kerry O'Connell is a civil construction project manager and a member of the Colorado Health Facility Acquired Infections Advisory Committee. A committed patient safety advocate, he calls for restoring empathy and compassion in health care. He became a Numerator in 2005.
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One Response to The Consequences of a Hospital-Acquired Infection

  1. Jodie says:

    So if a patient gets a Acquired Infection in the hospital. Who is responsible for the on going bills from that infection that caused other problems?

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