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Hospital costs of central line-associated bloodstream infections and cost-effectiveness of closed vs. open infusion containers. The case of Intensive Care Units in Italy

Rosanna Tarricone1, Aleksandra Torbica1*, Fabio Franzetti2 and Victor D Rosenthal3

Author affiliations

1 CERGAS-Bocconi University, Via Roentgen 1, 21036 Milan, Italy

2 Sacco Hospital, Milan, Italy

3 Medical College of Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina

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Citation and License

Cost Effectiveness and Resource Allocation 2010, 8:8  doi:10.1186/1478-7547-8-8

Published: 10 May 2010



The aim was to evaluate direct health care costs of central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI) and to calculate the cost-effectiveness ratio of closed fully collapsible plastic intravenous infusion containers vs. open (glass) infusion containers.


A two-year, prospective case-control study was undertaken in four intensive care units in an Italian teaching hospital. Patients with CLABSI (cases) and patients without CLABSI (controls) were matched for admission departments, gender, age, and average severity of illness score. Costs were estimated according to micro-costing approach. In the cost effectiveness analysis, the cost component was assessed as the difference between production costs while effectiveness was measured by CLABSI rate (number of CLABSI per 1000 central line days) associated with the two infusion containers.


A total of 43 cases of CLABSI were compared with 97 matched controls. The mean age of cases and controls was 62.1 and 66.6 years, respectively (p = 0.143); 56% of the cases and 57% of the controls were females (p = 0.922). The mean length of stay of cases and controls was 17.41 and 8.55 days, respectively (p < 0.001). Overall, the mean total costs of patients with and without CLABSI were € 18,241 and € 9,087, respectively (p < 0.001). On average, the extra cost for drugs was € 843 (p < 0.001), for supplies € 133 (p = 0.116), for lab tests € 171 (p < 0.001), and for specialist visits € 15 (p = 0.019). The mean extra cost for hospital stay (overhead) was € 7,180 (p < 0.001). The closed infusion container was a dominant strategy. It resulted in lower CLABSI rates (3.5 vs. 8.2 CLABSIs per 1000 central line days for closed vs. open infusion container) without any significant difference in total production costs. The higher acquisition cost of the closed infusion container was offset by savings incurred in other phases of production, especially waste management.


CLABSI results in considerable and significant increase in utilization of hospital resources. Use of innovative technologies such as closed infusion containers can significantly reduce the incidence of healthcare acquired infection without posing additional burden on hospital budgets.