Analyzing the Cost of Hospital Contact Isolation Practices: Implications for Nursing Administrator Practice, Research, and Policy

Deborah A. Saber, Author Affiliations: Associate Professor (Dr Saber), School of Nursing, University of Maine, Faculty Associate (Dr Saber), Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions, University of Maine, Orono, Maine; Director for Nursing Research and Evidence-Based Practice (Dr Saber), Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center, Bangor, Maine; Professor Emeritus (Dr Norris), School of Nursing and Health Studies, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida; Assistant School Director and Senior Lecturer (Dr Reinking), Professor and C.G. Avery Chair (Dr Trompeter), Dixon School of Accounting, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida; and Vice President of Nursing and Patient Care Services (Ms Sanford), Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center, Bangor, Maine.
Anne E. Norris
Jeff Reinking
Greg Trompeter
Deborah Sanford


OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to determine the weekly costs of contact precaution (CP) use with medically stable patients infected/colonized with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and to estimate the annual financial and environmental costs of CP. BACKGROUND: The increasing use of disposables for infection control contributes to increasing hospital costs and amounts of solid waste at rates that are becoming unsustainable. METHODS: A cost analysis was conducted using data from time/motion observations and previous waste audit study, along with hospital finance department values and US Department of Labor salary rates. RESULTS: Weekly and annual costs were $521.67 and $557 463 (5% hospital multidrug-resistant organism [MDRO] rate assumed). Personal protective equipment accounted for 43% of the waste produced (approximately 1600 pounds annually). CONCLUSIONS: Implications for nurse administrators include reevaluating activities that require personal protective equipment (PPE) and partnering with materials and human factor engineers to develop more financially and environmentally sustainable infection control practices.