PHC4 Research Brief - Hospital-acquired Infections in Pennsylvania - News Release


Contact: Joe Martin, Communications Director
717-232-6787 or


Additional Insurance Payments Estimated at $613.7 Million

Harrisburg, PA - March 29, 2006 - Updated figures confirmed by Pennsylvania hospitals show that the patient safety and financial impact of hospital-acquired infections is larger than originally reported, according to a new research brief from the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4). During the first nine months of 2005, hospitals identified 13,711 hospital-acquired infections, compared to 11,668 for all 12 months of 2004. PHC4 Executive Director Marc P. Volavka will discuss these figures and more in a hearing before the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations on March 29th at 2 PM at 2322 Rayburn House Office Building.

"The latest data provided by hospitals underscores that the problem of hospital-acquired infections is larger and more costly than originally estimated," said Mr. Volavka, Executive Director of PHC4. "The increase can be attributed to the fact that Pennsylvania hospitals are getting better at the reporting process and an expansion in surgical site infection data collection requirements."

The hospital admissions in which the 13,711 hospital-acquired infections occurred during the first nine months of 2005 were associated with an additional 1,456 deaths, 227,000 extra hospital days and $2.3 billion in additional hospital charges.

In its new research brief, PHC4 used actual third-party payment data (distinct from hospital charges) provided by commercial insurers to further quantify the financial toll of the 11,668 hospital-acquired infections reported in 2004. Commercial payment data was provided for 1,119 of the hospitalizations associated with these infections. Payment data for 2005 is not yet available.

This data shows that, on average, there was a $52,600 payment difference between hospital admissions with and without a hospital-acquired infection. Whereas the average payment of a hospitalization with a hospital-acquired infection was $60,678, the average payment for a hospitalization without such an infection was $8,078. Based on payments for the 1,119 hospital-acquired infection cases from commercial insurers for 2004, additional total payments from all payors (Commercial, Medicare, and Medicaid) for the hospital-acquired infection cases in 2004 can be estimated at $613.7 million in Pennsylvania. Total additional insurance payments were estimated by assuming that the average payment remained the same across all payor systems for the 11,668 hospital-acquired infections in 2004.

"The actual insurance payments are mammoth," said Mr.Volavka. "Patients who contract a hospital-acquired infection are five times more likely to die and the payment is more than seven times higher. And, these numbers do not even reflect payments to physicians that care for the patients. Third-party insurers, their purchaser clients, and public sector programs must be scratching their heads about what they are paying for."

Beginning January 1, 2004, hospitals were required to start submitting data on four types of hospital-acquired infections to PHC4: surgical site infections for three body system categories; and indwelling catheter-associated urinary tract infections, ventilator-associated pneumonia and central line-associated bloodstream infections. As of July 1, 2005, seven additional body system categories for surgical site infections were added to the reporting requirements. Starting January 1, 2006, hospitals were required to submit data on virtually all hospital-acquired infections to PHC4.

REMINDER: PHC4 Executive Director Marc P. Volavka will be testifying before the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations (Committee on Energy and Commerce): Public Reporting of Hospital–Acquired Infection Rates: Empowering Consumers, Saving Lives.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006
2:00 PM
2322 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC

The hearing will be webcast. The link to the broadcast is pasted in below and will become active 10 minutes prior to the start of the hearing. Once at the site, click on the appropriate schedule item.

PHC4 is an independent state agency charged with collecting, analyzing and reporting cost and quality health care information. Copies of the new report are free and available on the Council's website at or by calling PHC4 at 717-232-6787.