Study: Surgical Site Infections Significantly Increase Costs of Hip, Knee Replacements

By on 8:52 AM

A study published in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology examines how much the cost of hip and knee replacements increase when patients develop surgical site infections (SSIs).

The conclusion: a lot.

Researchers noted that there are nearly 800,000 primary hip and knee arthroplasty procedures performed annually in North America, with approximately 1 percent complicated by a complex SSI. They focused their study on all patients in Alberta, Canada, who underwent the procedures over a three-year period from 2012–2015 and identified those patients who developed a postoperative complex SSI. They then determined the total costs over one year and two years, analyzing the data comparing hip and knee replacement patients with and without SSIs.

What they found was that total costs more than quadrupled over a 12-month period for patients who developed a complex SSI, increasing from about $14,000 to about $68,000 in U.S. dollars.

The researchers also found that the most commonly identified causative pathogen was Staphylococcus aureus.

While preventing patient harm should be reason enough to increase efforts to reduce SSIs, the financial implications lend further support for their need and importance.

Phenelle Segal, RN, CIC, FAPIC

Phenelle Segal, RN, CIC, FAPIC, is the founder and president of Infection Control Consulting Services LLC (ICCS). Phenelle has more than 30 years' experience providing customized comprehensive infection control and prevention services to healthcare facilities nationwide. Her services focus on assisting hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, dental office and oral surgery practices, doctor's offices, nursing homes and other organizations with implementing and maintaining an infection control program that: complies with The Joint Commission, AAAHC, Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) and other regulatory agencies; respond to situations of noncompliance; and improve the processes for reducing risk.