The impact of ventilator-associated pneumonia on the Canadian health care system

John G Muscedere, Claudio M Martin, Daren K Heyland
Journal of Critical Care 2008, 23 (1): 5-10

INTRODUCTION: Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) is a cause of morbidity and mortality in critically ill patients. It is associated with increased health care costs and duration of mechanical ventilation. Using published data and information from public health care providers, we sought to determine the impact of VAP on the Canadian health care system.

METHODS: Ventilator-associated pneumonia incidence, attributable mortality, and intensive care unit (ICU) utilization/resource data were obtained through Canadian published and institutional data. Ontario case cost methodology was used for the cost of a critical care bed which is CAN dollars 2396 per day, excluding treatment costs. Antibiotic acquisition costs for Ontario were used. Physician reimbursement rates were obtained from the provincial ministries of health. Ventilator-associated pneumonia data, ICU resource data, and costs were combined to determine the impact of VAP.

RESULTS: For the Canadian health care system; ICU utilization is 217 episodes per 100000 population and 1150 days of mechanical ventilation per 100000. The incidence of VAP is 10.6 cases per 1000 ventilator days (95% CI, 5.1-16.1). Ventilator-associated pneumonia increases ICU length of stay 4.3 days (95% CI, 1.5-7.0 days) per episode. The attributable mortality of VAP is 5.8% (95% CI, -2.4 to 14). The number of cases of VAP is estimated to be approximately 4000 cases per year (95% CI, 1900-6100). This results in 230 deaths per year with the lower and upper confidence intervals ranging from 0 to 580. Ventilator-associated pneumonia accounts for approximately 17000 ICU days per year or around 2% of all ICU days in Canada. The cost to the health care system is CAN dollars 46 million (possible range, dollars 10 million to 82 million) per year.

CONCLUSION: The impact of VAP on the Canadian health care system is considerable. Eradication of this preventable nosocomial infection would save lives and conserve scarce health care resources.

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