Cost of antibiotic-resistant infections in U.S. tops $2B per year

pills
A new study finds a high cost for incremental treatment of antibiotic-resistant infections and a rapid rise in their incidence. (Pixabay)

Antibiotic resistance adds more than $1,000 to the cost of treatment for a single patient, according to a new study. Multiply that by the estimated number of antibiotic-resistant infections, and costs run well over $2 billion per year.

RELATED: NIH study: Superbugs flourish, pass on drug resistance in hospital wastewater systems

The study, published Wednesday in Health Affairs and conducted by researchers from Emory University and Saint Louis University, used data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey-Household Component collected from January 2002 through December 2014 to estimate the number of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections per year. During the period, such infections doubled from about 5% in 2002 to 11% in 2014.

Conference

13th Partnering with ACOS & IDNS Summit

This two-day summit taking place on June 10–11, 2019, offers a unique opportunity to have invaluable face-to-face time with key executives from various ACOs and IDNs from the entire nation – totaling over 3.5 million patients served in 2018. Exclusively at this summit, attendees are provided with inside information and data from case studies on how to structure an ACO/IDN pitch, allowing them to gain the tools to position their organization as a “strategic partner” to ACOs and IDNs, rather than a merely a “vendor.”

Regression analysis suggested the incremental cost of treating an antibiotic-resistant infection was $1,383, a number that the authors note “likely understated the economic and healthcare impacts of antibiotic-resistant infections for several reasons.” Given the rapid growth in the number of such infections, however, even a conservative estimate yields costs substantial enough to make the case for increased policy focus on antibiotic stewardship and other actions geared toward combating the threat.

RELATED: Alternatives to antibiotics for mild infections could curb drug resistance, study suggests

The study’s authors also urged policymakers to support the development of new strategies to prevent infections, and to support innovative antibiotic drug development. A recent report from the World Health Organization found that a lack of new antibiotics under development to combat drug-resistant superbugs has drastically reduced treatment options. CDC statistics indicate that 23,000 people die of antibiotic-resistant infections each year in the United States.

On the diagnostic front, researchers recommended that practitioners and healthcare organizations use ICD-10-CM codes when diagnosing antibiotic-resistant infections in inpatient and ambulatory care settings. They suggested that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services offer incentives, such as increased reimbursement for the coding of visits and stays by patients with the infections, to encourage such a practice.

Suggested Articles

An artificial intelligence tool can help diagnose post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans by analyzing their voices, a new study found.

The country will see a shortage of up to nearly 122,000 physicians by 2032, according to a report from the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Dr. Asaf Bitton has been tapped as the executive director at Ariadne Labs.