Estimating the cost of health care-associated infections: mind your p's and q's.
Graves N., Harbarth S., Beyersmann J., Barnett A., Halton K., Cooper B.
Monetary valuations of the economic cost of health care-associated infections (HAIs) are important for decision making and should be estimated accurately. Erroneously high estimates of costs, designed to jolt decision makers into action, may do more harm than good in the struggle to attract funding for infection control. Expectations among policy makers might be raised, and then they are disappointed when the reduction in the number of HAIs does not yield the anticipated cost saving. For this article, we critically review the field and discuss 3 questions. Why measure the cost of an HAI? What outcome should be used to measure the cost of an HAI? What is the best method for making this measurement? The aim is to encourage researchers to collect and then disseminate information that accurately guides decisions about the economic value of expanding or changing current infection control activities.