March 10, 2008 - Testing hospitalized patients for drug-resistant infections can help reduce mortality, decrease length of stay and reduce cost of care, according to a new study recently released by AdvaMed, the Advanced Medical Technology Association.
The report describes how diagnostic testing can identify drug resistance, allowing physicians to adjust medications or take other steps to more effectively treat patients with staphylococcal (staph) and other infectious diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis. Testing is being made easier with the introduction of new point-of-care tests for MRSA detection, which can identify carriers with a nasal swab within one or two hours.
“These findings show such large benefits in cost savings and health outcomes that antimicrobial susceptibility tests should be performed on all patients with these diagnoses,” said report author Frank Lichtenberg, Ph.D., professor of business, Columbia University Graduate School of Business. “Widespread testing for drug-resistant infections is a small investment that yields high returns for patients, for hospitals and for the healthcare system overall.”
The potential impact of testing for drug-resistant infections is significant as the number of U.S. hospital discharges that include a diagnosis of infection with a drug-resistant microorganism has increased more than 100-fold from 1993-2005, from 3,000 to 394,000.
The report indicates that patients tested for antimicrobial susceptibility had significantly lower mortality rates, lengths of stay, and overall treatment costs than patients who were not tested.
The study found among patients with a secondary staph infection diagnosis, those tested for antimicrobial susceptibility had 52 percent lower probability of death before discharge, 17 percent lower mean length of stay, and 22 percent lower cost than those who did not. Antimicrobial testing in this group was associated with $6,978 lower cost per discharge. The potential aggregate cost reduction from antimicrobial susceptibility testing of all patients hospitalized with this diagnosis in 2005 was $8.3 billion, the study concluded.
Among patients with any infectious and parasitic disease diagnosis, those tested for antimicrobial susceptibility had 30 percent lower probability of death before discharge, 26 percent lower mean length of stay, and 36 percent lower cost than those who did not. Antimicrobial susceptibility testing in this group is associated with $7,524 lower cost per discharge, the study found.
For more information: www.advamed.org