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Antimicrobial resistance to eight bacteria cost an additional €12m in extra bed days in 2019 – HIQA

By Paul Mulholland - 28th Jul 2021

HIQA has published a report on the significant economic burden of antimicrobial resistant infections on Irish public acute hospitals in 2019.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a global public health concern, driven largely by excessive and inappropriate use of antimicrobials in human and animal populations.

At the request of the Department of Health, HIQA undertook an analysis of the hospital costs associated with AMR. This work, part funded by the Health Research Board, supports Ireland’s First National Action Plan (iNAP) on Antimicrobial Resistance.

HIQA’s work included a literature review to inform an economic assessment of AMR. The subsequent analysis estimated the costs associated with eight selected antimicrobial-resistant bacteria of public health concern. HIQA found that over 4,700 of these resistant bacterial infections occurred across 50 public acute hospitals in Ireland in 2019. The study estimated that AMR associated with these bacteria cost the health service an additional €12 million in extra hospital bed days in 2019. HIQA also found that these resistant infections resulted in about 215 deaths and almost 5,000 DALYs, or years of full health lost.

Dr Máirín Ryan, HIQA’s Deputy CEO and Director of Health Technology Assessment, said: “Antimicrobial resistance also places a significant burden, both health and financial, on patients, carers and families. We estimated that AMR associated with these selected bacteria resulted in almost 5,000 DALYs in patients in 2019. To put this in context, this is similar to the burden reported in Ireland for certain cancers and rheumatoid arthritis.”

There are other important resistant micro-organisms and additional costs associated with managing AMR beyond extra bed days that were not examined in this study, due to the lack of available data. The estimated €12 million is therefore an underestimate of the total annual cost of managing all resistant infections in Ireland.

Dr Ryan continued: “There is a need for enhanced surveillance of AMR in Ireland. Enhanced surveillance and expanded public health capacity would enable earlier identification and management of AMR threats, as well as inform investment decisions by the Department of Health and the HSE.”

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