Objective: The aim of this study was to assess the financial costs to hospitals for the implementation of hospital-wide patient safety and infection control programs. Methods: We conducted questionnaire surveys and structured interviews in seven acute-care teaching hospitals with an established reputation for their efforts towards improving patient safety. We defined the scope of patient safety activities by use of an incremental activity measure between 1999 and 2004. Hospital-wide incremental manpower, material, and financial resources to implement patient safety programs were measured. Results: The total incremental activities were 19,414-78,540 person-hours per year. The estimated incremental costs of activities for patient safety and infection control were calculated as US$ 1.100-2.335 million per year, equivalent to the employment of 17-40 full-time healthcare staff. The ratio of estimated costs to total medical revenue ranged from 0.55% to 2.57%. Smaller hospitals tend to shoulder a higher burden compared to larger hospitals. Conclusions: Our study provides a framework for measuring hospital-wide activities for patient safety. Study findings suggest that the total amount of resources is so great that cost-effective and evidence-based health policy is needed to assure the sustainability of hospital safety programs.
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