Using a standardized method, we estimated concurrently the prolongation of stay and extra charges attributable to nosocomial infection in three hospitals that differed in size, administrative characteristics and patients' economic status. Results showed the consequences in the three hospitals to have been similar in the degree to which nosocomial infection prolonged hospitalization (3.1 to 4.5 days) and added to the infected patients' charges ($590 to $641 in 1976 dollars). In all three hospitals, the extra charges were divided about equally between routine and ancillary charges, and a relatively small percentage of patients (10 percent) with nosocomial infection accounted for a disproportionately large share of the total extra charges-46, 65 and 38 percent in the three hospitals; respectively. The economic consequences were influenced more by site of infection than by differences among hospitals, and their magnitude emphasizes the need for continued preventive efforts.
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