Reducing hospital superbugs costs just $2 per person

Superbug infections could claim 2.4 million lives across Europe, North America and Australia over the next 30 years unless more is done to limit the growing antibiotic resistance. Fortunately, the issue could be stemmed for about $2 per person by investing in measures such as handwashing and prudent antibiotic prescription, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Unless countries confront the issue, the annual cost of dealing with antimicrobial resistance complications could hit $3.5 billion across 33 countries, according to OECD’s analysis. In the U.S., the cost of dealing with healthcare costs of antimicrobial resistance could reach $65 billion by 2050.

OECD suggest a “five-pronged assault” to limit the antimicrobial resistance:

  • Promoting better hygiene
  • Ending over-prescription of antibiotics
  • Rapid testing for patients to determine viral or bacterial infections
  • Delays in prescribing antibiotics
  • Mass media campaigns

One of the best ways to move forward is with a package of policies to promote hygiene in hospitals and improve prescription practices. The short-term investment would pay off big time.

“The investments in these policies would pay for itself within a year and end up saving 4.8 billions of dollars per year,” the report reads.

Three out of four deaths related to antimicrobial resistance could be avoided by investing as little as $2 per person on the measures suggested by OECD.

The U.S., Italy and France are anticipated to have the absolute highest death rates from antimicrobial resistance, at nearly 30,000 deaths a year in the U.S. alone by 2050, the report found. Southern Europe will also be particularly affected, with Italy, Greece and Portugal forecast with top mortality rates from antimicrobial resistance.

Resistance is expected to continue rising, according to OECD, particularly in low and middle income countries.

See the full report here.