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Volume 10, Number 4—April 2004


Economics of Preventing Hospital Infection

Nicholas Graves*Comments to Author 
Author affiliation: *Centre for Health Research and Public Health, Queensland University of Technology, Kelvin Grove, Brisbane, Australia

Main Article

Table 1

Difference between financial and opportunity costs

Resources used for 500 surgeries Price paid by hospital
(financial cost) Opportunity cost
(economic cost)
formula image
Operating room and equipmenta
Nursing staffb
Total $565,000 $900,000

aFixed cost to the hospital.
bVariable cost to the hospital.

Main Article

1Care should be taken in interpreting this estimate, as it was derived from data gathered in the mid-1970s for the Study on the Efficacy of Nosocomial Infection Control (SENIC).

2At rates of 10% the fixed costs of the organization were managing to treat 50,000 patients, but at zero rates of infection they are treating 52,500 patients, representing an improvement in efficiency. See Appendix 1.

3Reductions would be in expenditures on antimicrobials to treat the infection and on the equipment used to deliver therapy. Expenditures on resources used for wound care such as dressings, irrigations, and other consumables would be reduced. Also, workload of the nursing staff may be reduced, so expenditures on agency nurses would be less.