Blog | Tuesday, May 6, 2014

$35 a day

A new paper in the American Journal of Infection Control takes a look at the cost of contact precautions. The investigators determined that, on average, 48 gowns and pairs of gloves are used daily for each isolated patient, and donning and removing the personal protective equipment consumed 43 minutes of time per isolated patient per day. This resulted in a cost of $35 per isolated patient day. In the ICU, setting the cost was higher at $42. Of course, this represents a fraction of the true cost since there are many other indirect costs. But it’s nice to have at least a ball park figure.

I quickly calculated that de-escalating contact precautions at my hospital (i.e., no longer isolating patients with MRSA or VRE unless they have uncontrolled drainage or secretions) results in a cost savings of over $700,000 annually. I need to let my CFO know about that!

Michael B. Edmond, MD, FACP, is a hospital epidemiologist in Richmond, Va., with a focus on understanding why infections occur in the hospital and ways to prevent these infections, and sees patients in the inpatient and outpatient settings. This post originally appeared at the blog Controversies in Hospital Infection Prevention.