Treating healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) costs the U.S. healthcare industry an estimated $10 billion a year, according to the results of an original investigation published online ahead of print in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Hospitals may be more likely to invest in prevention strategies for HAIs once they start to realize the potential savings.

The investigation found that the most costly HAIs – on a per-case basis – are central line-associated bloodstream infections at $45,814; followed by ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) at $40,144, surgical site infections ($20,785), Clostridium difficile infection ($11?285), and catheter-associated urinary tract infections at ($896).

In total, the estimated cost for the top-five major infections was $9.8 billion, with surgical site infections contributing the most to overall costs (33.7% of the total), followed by VAP (31.6%), central line-associated bloodstream infections (18.9%), C difficile infections (15.4%), and catheter-associated urinary tract infections (<1%).

“The extraordinary costs of these infections … will motivate health care administrators to invest in the necessary systems to decrease these infections. The costs of these investments are not trivial,” Mitchell H. Katz, MD, wrote in a related editorial.This study … will enable hospital administrators to better prioritize their spending by allowing them to compare the costs of interventions with the savings accrued by avoiding infections.”